March 23, 2010 in Featured
The law is clear on the appointment powers of an out-going president: He or she is prohibited from appointing anyone 60 days before he or she steps down from the Presidency. The rationale behind this constitutional prohibition is to to prevent him or her from exercising undue influence after exiting from power.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos tried to circumvent this provision in 1998, but the Supreme Court then under the leadership of Chief Justice Narvasa unanimously voted to uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution and struck down his midnight appointments as unconstitutional.
Recently, the Supreme Court set aside this legal precedent and decided by a majority vote to allow the out-going president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to appoint the next chief justice when Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires on April 17, or a week after the May 10 elections.
In the past, citizens of this country looked upon to the highest court of the land as the final arbiter of what is lawful and constitutional. This time, however, there is a growing perception that the majority members of the Supreme Court have opted to pay back the appointing authority in a display of gratitude, but unfortunately undermining the independence of the judiciary.
From hereon, people can no longer expect the Supreme Court to decide fairly when cases against GMA’s is brought before it. This will happen when cases of plunder, corruption and abuse of authority is finally brought against GMA when she steps out of Malacanang.
What the framers of the Constitution feared will have finally come to pass – a president being able to influence, if not control, the judiciary even if she is no longer in power. Add to this is the likelihood that the current administration will have a majority in Congress under the leadership of Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then GMA’s bid to regain Malacanang through a constitutional change would have become much easier.
And if things go awry in the coming May 10 elections, then there is always the insurance that the AFP will remain loyal to her after having appointed its top brass from the PMA’s class 1978 of which she is an honorary member.
Even if a new president is elected in the coming elections and duly sworn in as such, he will be in a less than enviable position as he would then be confronted with an opposition congress, a military loyal to the outgoing president and a judiciary whose independence has been severely compromised.
This is the scenario that many of our citizenry fear. GMA would not have really left after all to be held accountable for variious crimes she committed against the people while sitting as president of the land. It is this unmitigated greed for power that has made everything that GMA has touched to rot.
First, it was the executive branch with many of her minions plundering the coffers of the nation. Then, Congress succumbed to her wily ways, most of them voting to oppose the impeachment charges brought against her. Now, it is the turn of the judicial branch of government to succumb to the unrelenting efforts of GMA to make it bend to her will.
With all the checks and balances in government now seriously compromised, it is no wonder that the citizenry is fearful that a dictatorial regime is not far-fetched. Thus, the call for vigilance has again been raised even as the people are busy preparing for the May 10 elections.
Many more things can happen between now and June 30 when GMA is expected to bow to the will of the citizenry. But if her previous actuations are any gauge, the people be better prepared for sudden twists and turns in the political landscape as GMA clings hard to power, including undermining judicial independence. # nordis.net