POSTSCRIPT / March 21, 2010 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Preview of how SC will decide CJ issue

PREVIEW: One practical value of the Supreme Court ruling on the President’s power and duty to appoint the replacement of a retiring Chief Justice is in its giving a preview of the political lay of the land in the tribunal.

Now we know that, promises considered, when President Arroyo appoints Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s successor after he retires on May 17 and her action is questioned before the Court, she is likely to romp off with a winning majority in the 15-member tribunal.

In the first legal skirmish that we just witnessed, nine justices came out waving the GMA flag. Led by justice Lucas Bersamin, who wrote the majority decision, the others were Jose Perez, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Mendoza and Mariano del Castillo.

We dare say that unless a compelling supervening event rearranges the alliances, it is unlikely that the majority ruling will be reversed.

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ALL-GMA TEAM: If the dramatis personae follow the script, President Arroyo can proceed to appoint Puno’s replacement from the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council. The nominees will include the two most senior justices Antonio Carpio and Renato Corona.

Since Carpio has served formal notice that he will accept the appointment only from the incoming president, he has effectively ruled himself out. Corona now looks like a shoo-in.

Additionally, President Arroyo will be able to appoint not only the new Chief Justice but also a 15th justice to fill the vacancy to be left by Corona (or whoever else) rising to the helm of the High Court.

Since the President still has 44 days left between May 17 and June 30 (when she steps down), and since the SC is likely to rule with finality that the President can appoint SC justices anytime, GMA will be able to accomplish the unprecedented feat of stuffing the Court with 15 members who are all her appointees.

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GOOD FAITH: Some partisans will not like that seeming judicial coup, but if that is what the Constitution commands the President to perform, there is hardly anything a complaining taxpayer can do except to stop paying taxes.

President Arroyo cannot leave the SC vacancies gaping open just so nobody can say that all 15 justices are her choices. Appointing them is her duty and if the time to fill a post falls within her term, what can she do? Pass and refuse to perform her constitutional duty?

There is this dangerous notion among some of us that an SC justice is hopelessly beholden to the President who had appointed him/her. This is immature, illogical and unkind thinking.

When Ms Arroyo’s successor later fills upcoming vacancies in the Court, do we presume that these new justices are also beholden to the new president?

Some friends in the Court (close enough to share some secrets) tell me that the President never talked to them regarding any case before them. Can we not grant the justices, and the INSTITUTION, the usual presumption of regularity and good faith?

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HERE THEY ARE: Listed here for your perusal are the acronyms of the 187 Party-list groups seeking House seats in the May 10 elections. These acronyms will appear on the ballot.

Provided upon our request by Director Ferdinand T. Rafanan, head of the Commission on Elections law department, the list below still includes a few Party-lists that were disqualified after the printing of the ballots began:

1 ANG PAMILYA; 1-AANI; 1-ABAA; 1-AHAPO; 1-AK; 1-CARE: 1-NET; 1-TUBIG; 1-UTAK; lGANAP/GUARDIANS; 1ST KABAGIS; 1ST PRISA; A BLESSED PARTY-LIST; A TAMBAY; A TEACHER; A-IPRA; AA-KASOSYO PARTY; AAMA; AAMBIS-OWA; AANI;

AAPS; AASCA; ABA; ABA ILONGGO; ABAKADA; ABAMIN; ABANG LINGKOD; ABANTE KA; ABAY PARAK; ABBA-AMA; ABC; ABO; ABONO; ABOT TANAW; ABP-BICOLNON; ABROAD; ABS; ACMA; ACT TEACHERS; ACTS;

ADA; ADAM; ADD; ADD-TRIBAL; AFPSEGCO; AG; AGAP; AGBIAG; AGHAM; AGILA; AGRI; AHON; AK; AKAP; AKAP BATA; AKAP TAO; AKB; AKBAYAN; AKI; AKMA-PTM;

AKO; AKO AGILA; AKO BAHAY; AKSI; ALAGAD; ALAY BUHAY; ALE; ALIF; ALIM; ALLUMAD; ALMA; ALMANA; ALNA; ALON; ALUM; ALYANSA NG OFW; AMA; AMANA; AMANG; AME;

AMIN; AMS; AN WARAY; ANAD; ANAK; ANAKALUSUGAN; ANAKPAWIS; ANG KASANGGA; ANG LADLAD; ANG MINERO; ANG NICP; ANG PADER; ANG PDR; ANG SAMAKA; ANG TRABAHANTE; ANG TSINOY; ANUPA; APEC; APELA; APO;

APOI; ARAL; ARARO; ARC; ARCAPP; AS; ASAHAN MO; AT; ATING KOOP; ATM; ATONG PAGLAUM; ATS; AVE; AVPAP; AWAT; BABAE KA; BAGO; BANAT; BANDILA; BANGON TRANSPORT;

BANTAY; BAYAN MUNA; BAYANI; BH; BIDA (BATANG IWAS); BIDA (BINIGKIS); BIGKIS; BINHI; BIYAHENG PINOY; BUHAY; BUKID; BUKLOD FILIPINA; BUTIL; CHINOY; CIBAC; COCOFED; COFA; CONSLA; COOP-NATCCO; CPM;

DAMAYAN; DIWA; EMMANUEL; FFW; FIL-MUS; FIRM 24-K; GABRIELA; GREEN FORCE; IVAP; KAAGAPAY; KAAKBAY; KABATAAN; KABAYAN; KAKUSA; KALAHI; KALINGA; KASAPI; KATRIBU; KATUTUBO; KLBP;

LPGMA; LYPAD; NCCP; OPO; ORAGON; PACYAW; PBA; PCL; PEP; PFP; PM (MANGGAGAWA); PM (MASDA); SABOD; SAGIP; SB; SENIOR CITIZENS; SMART; TUCP; UCAP; UFS;

UNI-MAD; UNLAD PILIPINAS; VENDORS PARTY LIST; VFP; WOMENPOWER; YACAP; YES WE CAN.

* * *

SKIP PARTY-LISTS: By just scanning the list, the average voter will not be able to make an intelligent decision to give one of them a sectoral seat in Congress.

A vote for a Party-list should be BASED ON ITS NOMINEES, not on the acronym, the long name or the avowed advocacy of the supposedly marginalized sector it claims to represent.

Some Party-lists are being used by shady characters and smart operators as backdoor for entering the House of Representatives.

We insist that the Comelec limits each group to a maximum of three nominees listed in descending order of succession. If the first nominees back out or are disqualified, only those remaining on the list should qualify for a House seat. No replacement should be allowed.

Better still, until the Comelec is able to purge the list and the Party-lists themselves come clean, VOTERS SHOULD SKIP THE PARTY-LIST PORTION OF THE BALLOT.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 21, 2010)

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