Though the Supreme Court has ruled that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can appoint the successor of the now retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno which eventually led to the appointment of Justice Renato Corona, I’m still among those who disagree with the ruling.
I disagree for the following reasons:
Technically, at the time the ruling was made, GMA has made no such appointment yet, the position of Chief Justice was not even vacant, so just like Justices Nachura and Brion, the Court should not have made a ruling for there was, at the time, no justiciable controversy.
Substantially, I disagree with the ruling, not simply because it’s the popular view, but a more cerebral reading of the Constitution says that among other things, the President’s appointing power is suspended during the two months preceding a Presidential election.
But all this is now moot for the Supreme Court has already decided and now, Justice Renato Corona is on his very first day of being the new Chief Justice. Much to his trouble and inconvenience because former CJ Puno was right, his birthday has indeed become troublesome for his successor.
The public sees him as GMA’s Chief Justice not solely because of his close ties with the outgoing occupant of Malacañan, but because he was appointed at a time when appointments are not supposed to be made. President-elect Noynoy Aquino’s refusal to recognize him as the new Chief Justice is just but a confirmation of his ill-timed appointment.
Timing is everything
And that is what I’m driving at. There’s no questioning the credentials of Justice Corona, his is one of the brilliant minds in the Court today. Being the most senior among the Associate Justices, tradition weighs heavily to favor his appointment as the next Chief Justice.
But since timing is everything, had he not been appointed during the period when the President is prohibited from doing so, and only because the outgoing President insisted in doing such, then Justice Corona’s appointment as the new Chief Justice would be accepted by both the public and the new in-coming President.
The Supremes could’ve saved themselves
All this could have been avoided if only the Supreme Court did not allow itself to be dragged along by GMA in going against tradition, jurisprudence, public opinion and the Constitution itself. And Justice Corona could have saved himself all this trouble by simply declining the appointment now and waited for the new President. For when I saw him being swarmed by reporters asking him what his comments were with regards to those who refuse to recognize his appointment as Chief Justice and simply smiling back while retreating to his office, I cannot help but feel sorry for him. He has not yet done anything as the new Chief Justice and yet he is already under so much flak.
Which makes me wonder, why has GMA insisted in appointing the next Chief Justice to begin with? Why did the Supreme Court chose to be dragged along? And what will happen now that the new Chief Justice, and to a certain extent, the Supreme Court and the new President is headed to a collision course? This is certainly far from over.