Press Release
January 11, 2010

Chiz says JBC should steer clear of politics in deciding
on CJ Puno's replacement issue

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday that political considerations should not be taken into account by the Judicial Bar Council when it decides on the issue regarding the replacement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

"Our decision should have nothing to do with President Arroyo or any other political consideration," said the Bicolano lawmaker after attending a meeting of the JBC.

"My decision will be based on what is constitutional, legal and fair. I would like to believe that the other members of the JBC would also decide along these lines," he said.

Escudero, who is the Senate representative to the JBC, said that the JBC decided to defer discussion on whether President Arroyo can still appoint the new Supreme Court Chief Justice during the last three months of her term.

While the Constitution bars the President from making any appointments 60 days before a presidential election, it also provides that any vacancy in the Supreme Court "should be filled within 90 days of the occurrence."

Puno, who was appointed by President Fidel Ramos in 1993 to the High Tribunal, retires on May 17 -- 45 days before Arroyo steps down from the presidency. He is the only member of the 15-member Supreme Court who is not an appointee of President Arroyo.

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