Bayan, Youth Groups File Opposition to Midnight Appointment of Chief Justice

News Release
March 2, 2010

Representatives of militant groups today added their voice to the growing opposition to the “midnight appointment” of the next Supreme Court Chief Justice. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo and Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr today filed a consolidated comment/opposition-in-intervention to the petitions filed by Arturo de Castro and Estelito Mendoza.

The Bayan leaders were joined by Courage chair Ferdinand Gaite, Kadamay secretary general Gloria Arellano, National Union of Students of the Philippines Chair Einstein Recedes, Tayo ang Pag-asa convenor Alvin Peters, League of Filipino Students chair Terry Ridon, Student Christian Movement chair Ma. Cristina Guevarra and Anakbayan chair Ken Ramos. The petitioners were represented by Atty. Al Parreno.The petition was filed at 1:25pm at the Supreme Court.

“Today we join other lawyers groups in the snowballing opposition to the moves by Malacanang to force a midnight appointment of the Chief Justice even as this is clearly banned by the Constitution. As citizens, we cannot allow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to get away with a patently illegal act of appointing the next Chief Justice,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Arroyo should simply back-off from the issue of the next Chief Justice,” Reyes added.

In its opposition, Bayan cited technical and substantial grounds for calling for the dismissal of the de Castro and Mendoza petitions. It said that de Castro and Mendoza failed to show that all requisites for a valid judicial review are present in the petition. The group said that no actual case is ripe for adjudication by the High Court. The group also called attention to the verification of the de Castro petition which it called fatally defective since it was notarized by the petitioner’s daughter.

It also said that a petition for mandamus filed by de Castro cannot be invoked as a remedy to compel a purely discretionary act by the Judicial and Bar Council.

“Prior to the retirement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno on May 17, 2010, there is as yet no duty on the part of respondent JBC to begin the evaluation process, prepare the list of nominees and submit the same to the President. For an action for mandamus to prosper, it is required that there be a duty imposed by law and that there is refusal to perform what is required by law. Applying the same to the instant case, petitioner de Castro clearly availed of the wrong remedy considering that respondent JBC is not required by law to submit a list of nominees to the President to a post that is not yet vacant,” oppositors said.

On substantial grounds, Bayan avers that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cannot appoint a new chief justice prior to the retirement current chief Justice Reynato Puno. Arroyo also cannot appoint a new chief justice even upon the retirement of Puno because this will be covered by the constitutional ban on appointments under section 15, article VII of the constitution. Arroyo is banned from appointing the next chief justice two months before the elections and until her term ends on June 30, 2010.

Bayan questioned the motives of Mendoza in filing a petition for judicial review. The group said it received information saying that since Mendoza has several cases pending before the Supreme Court, he may be trying to curry favor with the next Chief Justice that may be appointed by Arroyo.

Earlier, the office of the Solicitor General has backed the position of de Castro and Mendoza. The OSG has asked the Supreme Court to declare that Arroyo has the power to appoint the next chief justice.

“It is obvious where Malacanang wants to take this fight. Arroyo wants to force the issue. The people should be ready to mobilize against these illegal and self-serving maneuvers of the Palace,” Reyes said. #

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