Open Letter to Justice Renato C. Corona

Dear Justice Corona,

In a few hours from now, our country will again be thrust into a first – a situation where no other Filipino men and women have tread and dared to embark. It will be the time of affirmance; a time when the precarious De Castro v. JBC will finally come into reality.

Yet, the challenge now is not what De Castro v. JBC has become: practically carving out an unexpected exception to the seemingly absolute prohibition to the President (not to make any appointments two months before the end of her term),[1] by allowing her instead to appoint a Chief Justice given that any vacancies in the high court must be filled within ninety days.[2] While this has cultivated clashing legal opinions, we do not believe this to be the ultimate trouble. Rather, we think of it as a chance for the Filipino man to show that his driving motive will not be for personal gain, but for others and for the greater national ideals. Today will be the time that our future leaders, in all three branches of our great democracy, will strive to achieve positive change in the manner that will uphold our sacred Constitution.

At a time of great political and democratic change, constitutional prudence must be made by those who will be placed in the greatest powers of the land. We thus call on Your Honor, Justice Renato C. Corona, not to accept the appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We call on the Honorable Justice to rise above the negative specter and accommodate the true meaning of the Constitution. The De Castro ruling only allowed appointments, but did not discount the possibility of deferring the exercise of such power. Indeed, the Constitution has been very clear. The case of In Re: Valenzuela, decided en banc, bespeaks that the ban on the appointments extends to the judiciary, and thus must prevail over the ninety-day filling-up requirement of vacancies. The treacherous implications of giving power to an outgoing President, who may or may not have underlying motives, as compared to an empty position which may be filled anyhow, are more dangerous than meets the eye.

As a dedicated member of the legal profession, we trust that you will decline to partake in what might be a constitutional betrayal. Your acceptance of the position will not only aggravate what is perceived to be a partiality of the Court to the outgoing administration, but will also cause a probable constitutional crisis.

Your Honor, every leader, in any of the three branches of government, will have the time to shape history. At the moment this happens, one will be asked to have the courage to act, and to act rightfully. The only question however is how they should do it ideally, without political color, as envisioned by the Constitution of the Philippine Republic. Our Constitution is the basis of our government’s organization. It is meant to be respected by all, including all leaders, who have the responsibility of preserving the faith of our people in our democratic institutions.

Your Honor, we call on you to rise above this situation; we call on you to uphold the Constitution; we call on you to protect the last bastion of democracy; we call on you to show us what it means to be a Filipino leader; we call on you to spare the people from any further divide that will prevent this country from moving forward towards the path of development and change, and we call on you not to accept the appointment. Let us make history – the time when leaders and constituents alike finally act for the unity and greater glory of the nation.

UP College of Law

[1] 1987 CONST. Art. VIII, Sec. 15: “Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

[2] 1987 CONST. Art. VIII, Sec. 4(1): The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.

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