Nonoy truly appears to be on a roll in getting favorable decisions that dovetail with his views from a Corona-less Supreme Court (SC), making the present court perhaps an Aquino court.
The latest SC decision ruled that the acting Chief Justice, who is Antonio Carpio, should head the Judicial and Bar Council, despite the clear wording of the 1987 Constitution saying that it is the Chief Justice who is mandated to head the JBC.
But to justify that decision, the SC pulled out a 1948 Republic Act 296, Section 12, saying that considering that the complete membership in the JBC is preferable and pursuant to its supervisory power over the JBC, it should not be deprived of representation. It ruled that the most senior justice of the high court, who is not an applicant for the position of Chief Justice, should participate in the deliberations for the selection of nominees for the said vacant post and preside over the proceedings in the absence of the constitutionally named ex-officio chairman, pursuant the Judiciary Act of 1948.
That Act states that “In case of vacancy in the Office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or of his inability to perform the duties and powers of his office, they shall devolve upon the Associate Justice who is first in precedence, until such disability is removed, or another Chief Justice is appointed and duly qualified. This provision shall apply to every Associate Justice who succeeds to the Office of the Chief Justice.”
The country has had so many Constitutions drafted and ratified since the 1935 Constitution and even changes in the age limits of high court justices have been made since the 70s, yet an old law --- which in all probability, has been superseded by the 1987 Charter, since clearly, there was no JBC in 1948, and that the same 1987 Constitution just as clearly has stated that it is the Chief Justice who heads the JBC -- is being used to justify the ruling of an acting CJ becoming the head of the screening body?
That decision is ultra-strange, considering the fact that the SC appears to have placed an old law above the Constitution.
While it may not be the right interpretation of the Constitution of who should head the JBC, it appears yet again another move by the Aquino court to make an unconstitutional act constitutional, especially since a chief justice was ousted before calling the JBC to convene.
Besides, all those salivating to get the top judicial post, certainly aren’t going to ruin their chances of getting the high court post and be perceived by the public as being an unconstitutionally-appointed chief justice.
The latest move is to have Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, jumping over many of his seniors, presiding over the JBC. That’s constitutional?
This is probably no different from the time the high court, under the duo of Hilario Davide Jr. and Artemio Panganiban covered up its biggest mistake of swearing in Gloria Arroyo as president even when there was no vacancy in the office of the president, coming up with that infamous “constructive resignation” doctrine to justify their coup d’etat in the case of then sitting President Joseph Estrada.
And worse is that which the SC said about the appointing power of the president: “A plain reading of the constitutional provisions on the Judicial Department in Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution clearly shows that the phrase ‘Members of the Supreme Court’ and the words ‘Members’ and ‘Member’ are repeatedly used to refer to the Justices of the Supreme Court without distinction whether he be the Chief Justice or any of the Associate Justices or all 15 Justices.”
That being the case, why then did Carpio and cousin now Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales question then President Gloria Arroyo’s prerogative to appoint Renato Corona as CJ? Wasn’t it because they knew they didn’t stand a chance of being appointed to the SC top post then?
Their justification was that Gloria no longer had the power to appoint a CJ since there was an election ban at the time, meaning it was unconstitutional for Gloria to appoint a CJ and that it should be the incoming president who should.
Now, it’s a different tune the SC sings with Carpio at the helm. What was unconstitutional to them then, is now constitutional, but then again, it is now the Aquino court that has the say.