Press Release
April 20, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today urged the Judicial and Bar Council to stop its screening of candidates for Chief Justice, believing it is premature. Pimentel also commended Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales for publicly disowning their inclusion in the nominees for Chief Justice being screened by the JBC.

The two justices have taken the position that the appointment of the new Chief Justice should be left to the next President due to the constitutional ban against midnight appointments.

Pimentel said the JBC's move to proceed with the screening process is inconsistent with its stand questioning the March ruling of the Supreme Court authorizing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appoint the successor of outgoing Chief Justice Reynato Puno due to the constitutional ban on presidential appointments 60 days before the presidential election and until the term of the President expires on June 30.

"The JBC should not do the screening now," he said even as he pointed out that he vacancy for the position of Chief Justice will occur on May 17 - seven days after the election.

In a comment submitted to the SC April l2, the eight-man Council said the high tribunal should have dismissed the petitions asking the court to rule on the issue of whether President Arroyo could appoint the new Chief Justice.

The JBC said the petitions were "patently premature" because the Council had not yet decided on whether it would submit to the outgoing president a shortlist of nominees to the post.

Moreover, the JBC said it would have wanted to consult first with constitutional experts whether Mrs. Arroyo could appoint Puno's replacement in view of the constitutional prohibition against midnight appointments and another provision mandating the appointment to judicial vacancies within 90 days.

Pimentel argued that the Constitution clearly bans appointments by the President two months before the elections and up to the end of his or her term. The only exceptions are temporary appointments to executive offices such as for Cabinet posts or directors of government corporations whose functions would be prejudiced unless the appointments are made.

"The position of Chief Justice is not an executive position. And no temporary appointments may be made to that position. It is also a position in a collegial body whose functions would not be prejudiced even if for some time it is vacant," Pimentel said.

While the position remains unfilled, he said the most senior justice can serve as acting Chief Justice.

"And under the circumstances, it won't be vacant for long because the new administration would come into power after June 30 this year. And the new President would have ample time to appoint the new Chief Justice."

News Latest News Feed