President Aquino calls on SC to exercise judicial prudence

October 15, 2010 10:55 am 

MANILA, Oct. 14 — President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the Supreme Court on Thursday to exercise judicial prudence “at a time when the Filipino people deserve confidence-building measures from all our institutions.”

The President was reacting to the status quo ante order on Executive Order No. 2 granted by the High Tribunal to Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, who was among those affected by the EO 2 he issued last July.

The EO recalls and revokes the midnight appointments of the previous administration.

“We had to issue EO 2 because there were people who accepted illegal appointments, knowingly, thereby becoming part of a conspiracy to impede and to thwart our people’s clamor for a return to good governance,” the President said.

He said he has put in people “who shared our aims. Our appointees allowed us to discover questionable deals, which we immediately stopped. For instance, our appointees uncovered close to a billion pesos worth of anomalous contracts that had been entered into during the past administration. We have canceled those contracts and saved the government hundreds of millions of pesos.”

He said while the SC order applies only to one of four petitioners “let me be clear about its far-reaching consequences. By focusing on the minutiae of the case, the SC effectively turned back the clock. It dishonors the decency of those who had the courtesy to resign.”

“The potential result of this will be chaos and paralysis in the Executive Branch of government as the legitimacy of officials appointed to replace those already removed will be cast in doubt,” the President said.

He said the order will embolden hundreds of similarly-situated appointees of the previous administration, who had already been replaced, resigned or recalled to demand their reinstatement or retention. “And having returned to their previous posts, what can we expect from people who accepted illegal appointments to begin with?” he asked.

The Chief Executive said “the order has the potential to derail or even nullify our efforts to uncover and reverse midnight deals, streamline the bureaucracy and implement reforms to bring back good governance. It will enable those who had participated in midnight deals to at the very least, cover their tracks if not complete acts inimical to public interest.”

Going beyond the Executive branch, he said, “the order comes shortly after the SC issued a similar status quo ante order preventing the House of Representatives from acting on the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. The members of the House protested what they believed was an intrusion into their own constitutional powers,” he said.

He said the Executive Department kept silent when the SC prevented the House from continuing its impeachment proceedings.

“That recent action of the Supreme Court tests the limits of its constitutional authority and this latest order could precipitate a clash with another separate, co-equal branch of government,” the President said.

He said that “our democracy was built on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers, hence the three branches of government. We therefore appeal, as a co-equal branch of government, for the Supreme Court to consider the implications of its order.”

The President said the order comes at a time when “we had already taken significant steps forward and public confidence in our institutions is being restored. We have saved the Filipino people billions of pesos by rescinding contracts that have been uncovered after the midnight appointees have been removed from office. The economy is on an upturn. This order can set back all of these achievements,” he said.

Asked if he was confident about getting the SC’s cooperation, the President said “we are all at the service of our people. We hope they can broaden their view and see the implications of this singular act.” (PNA) RMA/scs/PCOO/ssc

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