Friday, May 14, 2010

Corona's Appointment Ties Noynoy's Hands

In clear disregard of the incoming president's prerogative to appoint the next chief justice, outgoing president and incoming congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) displayed once again her stubbornness by appointing her former chief of staff and spokesperson, now Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona as the next chief justice.

While De Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council has cleared the way for GMA in appointing the next chief justice, courtesy and prudence dictate that she should have let the incoming president have the privilege of appointing the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who is set to retire on Monday. The absence of a chief justice will in on way hamper the operation of the high court, it being a collegial body where each member equally exercises judicial functions in collaboration with the others. Besides, an acting chief justice can always be designated in the interim as has happened in the past where the most senior member of the court assumes the role pending the appointment of a chief justice.

GMA's haste in appointing the new chief justice, with only less than two months before her term expires, is once again lending credence to apprehensions of another sinister plot in the making. Just like the no-el scenarios - born out of MalacaƱang's questionable conduct and pronouncements - this appointment will once more stir our imaginations and make us conclude that GMA is making the final touches to her carapace that will protect her against future prosecutions, especially so that the presidential front-runner Noynoy Aquino has promised to launch an investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing during her administration. And who better to protect her than an old associate like Renato Corona, who has closely worked with her even while she was still a vice president.

But GMA does not only appear to serve her interest in this appointment. She has also put the heir-apparent to the presidency on the spot. Knowing that Aquino has publicly announced before that he will not recognize a GMA-appointed chief justice, the appointment appears to be pitting Noynoy against the Supreme Court (which is packed with GMA appointees) early on in his presidency.

After all is said and done, however, the appointment of Renato Corona has effectively tied the hands of Noynoy. The Supreme Court itself has already spoken that GMA can make the appointment. For Noynoy to disregard such appointment once he assumes power would not only be a legal dent on his young administration, but also antagonize the Supreme Court whose members will not take kindly the embarrassment that will befall one of their own.

If GMA has not seen fit to exercise courtesy and prudence, that's no reason for Noynoy to do the same. Nothing will be gained except to nurse a bruised ego by not recognizing the appointment, however distasteful the manner it has been made. Six years is a long time to be waging losing battles in the Supreme Court.
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  1. I think the problem is that we are confronting a cornered, amoral rat bent on survival (GMA) by dealing with her with 'courtesy and prudence'. What we seem to overlook is the fact that by letting the 'enemy' dictate the terms of engagement and the field of battle, we have already lost.

    I find it somewhat disconcerting when people talk about President-elect Aquino 'snubbing' CJ Corona if he chooses not to take his oath of office before the latter.


    There is *nothing* in the Constitution that states that the President must take his oath before the CJ. And if someone starts saying 'tradition and precedent ...' I have one response: GMA threw 'tradition' and 'precedent' out the window when she appointed Corona - at the same time, Noynoy is only following in the 'tradition' of the venerated Cory Aquino who took her oath of office before Associate Justice Teehankee, not the CJ of the time.

    Let Noynoy decide who he takes his oath of office from - why not his girlfriend Shalani who is a councillor from Valenzuela, representing both local governments and the power of love? Or the governor elect Magandauatu (?) to show that he is firm in his resolve to prosecute the Ampatuans - as well as establishing 'bridges' to the Muslims?

    As for 'CJ' Corona - by all means invite him to the inauguration to bear witness, along with the whole SC; show them every courtesy and respect, greet them with champagne and caviar, 21 gun salutes and whatever ...

    But don't allow them a role in the inauguration except as witnesses.

    Who knows? This may well establish a new precedent and tradition ... and firmly establishes the independence of the executive - separation of powers, right?

  2. Gil,

    Thank you for the comment. Noynoy should respect the rule of law and show courtesy to a co-equal body by recognizing the newly-appointed CJ and the office that he represents. If not the man, respect the office. Early on in his presidency Noynoy should exhibit statesmanship and not pick battle with the Supreme Court. He should get on with the oath-taking and start focusing on the more pressing needs of the country.

  3. The President-Elect’s position on the Corona issue is very dangerous. The Supreme Court has already ruled WITH FINALITY that President Arroyo has the power to appoint the Chief Justice to replace the Hon. Reynante Puno.

    The Supreme Court is the final arbiter on constitutional issues. So whether or not somebody agrees with a decision handed down by the Supreme Court, once a decision becomes final and executory, that decision becomes part of the law of the land.

    The President-Elect’s refusal to recognize this may lead to a constitutional crisis.

    Moreover, it’s quite evident that the two (2) people around the President-Elect who are the loudest advocates of the hard-ball tact on the Corona appointment — namely former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz and former Solicitor General Simeon Marcelo, are doing so because of vested personal interests.

    It is obvious that Cruz and Marcelo are vocal against the Corona appointment only because they want to see Justice Antonio Carpio — the founder of their Law Office (Carpio, Villaraza, and Cruz; now known as Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo, and Angangco), to be chosen Chief Justice instead of Corona.