No midnight appointments, Aquino says of new judges

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President Benigno Aquino III on Friday disputed reports that branded his naming of 61 judges last week as “midnight appointments” similar to that of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona’s by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, saying conditions surrounding the two moves were different.

First, Mr. Aquino said, Corona’s appointment violated the Constitution since he was appointed by Arroyo during the election period in 2010.

Secondly, he said, he signed the judges’ appointments on March 26, three days ahead of the start of the ban on presidential appointments stretching from March 29 to May 13.

“Now, on top of that, there is a letter from the chair of the Comelec (Commission on Elections), and it embodies Comelec Resolution No. 13-0331 dated March 5, 2013,” the President said.

He added, “It states, basically, that appointments to the judiciary as provided by Article 8, Section 4, Subsections 1 and 9, which is the judiciary portion of the Constitution, are not covered by the election ban in Section 261, subsection G of the Omnibus Election Code.”

He made this clarification in an interview in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, where he campaigned for local candidates of the ruling party and those in its senatorial slate.

“There is a huge difference [between the judges’ appointment] and the appointment of Corona,” the President said.

He called attention to Article 7, Section 15, of the Constitution, which stated: “Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to the executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

Mr. Aquino said the controlling rule was, “two months before and up to the end of the term” wherein a sitting President could no longer fill vacancies in the government.

“Corona was appointed one week after elections. My [appointments] happened when an election has yet to take place,” he said.

He also disclosed that he signed the appointments of the 61 judges on Tuesday, March 26.

The judges have been assigned to municipal and regional trial courts in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Vigan, Quirino, Aurora, Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

He also appointed judges to preside over courts in the National Capital Region, in the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Pasig.

Mr. Aquino added: “I am not a minister. I have a search committee that acts on the recommendations of the judiciary search [committee]. Well, the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) sends a list.

“I am given a choice [to pick from] three [nominees] per court.”

Saying that the nominees were not the result of “hocus pocus,” he added, “Of course, we thoroughly study [the list] as much as possible.”

He enumerated some of the factors considered in judicial appointments: Grade in the bar examinations, output in terms of decisions as judge and the “crises he/she handled as a lawyer.”

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  • Loggnat

    A thorough criminal and lifestyle check should also be done on the prospective appointee to weed out and prevent those who are susceptible and sometimes already corrupt individuals.

  • blowcoldblowhot

    Nonoy made clear that Executive Order (EO) 2, among the first orders he had issued as president, was nothing about good government but was a mere tool to purge allies of former President Gloria Arroyo from their posts and to be replaced by his yellow cohorts who were and still are, just too eager to lay their hands on juicy government
    posts.

    The recent appointment of judges and officials of key government posts was in clear contravention of not only the intent of his own EO but the Constitution itself that imposes a ban on government postings during the election period.

    The Palace appears ridiculous arguing against the provisions of the
    Constitution which were made up of the same content of the Charter invoked in
    EO 2. Noynoy even claimed that the Comelec had come up with a legal opinion that the
    appointments he made were within the election law.

    So how come the Comelec decision in approving Gloria’s appointments prior to
    the 2010 elections can be disregarded and still EO 2 considered the postings as
    midnight appointments while this time around, the Comelec has ascendancy over
    the issue?

    Read the argument posited by Noynoy:

    “Now, on top of that, there is a letter from the chairman of the Comelec and it
    embodies Comelec Resolution No. 13-0331 dated 5 March, 2013, and it states,
    basically, that appointments to the judiciary as provided by Article 8, Section
    4, Sub-sections 1 and 9, which is the judiciary portion of the Constitution,
    are not covered by the election ban in Section 261, Subsection (g) of the Omnibus
    Election Code.”

    Substitute the dates from 2013 to 2010 and anybody would think that the line
    came from Gloria and not Noynoy.

    That was basically the same argument used by those who defended former Chief
    Justice Renato Corona from the impeachment article that he was a midnight
    appointee, the only difference being that Corona was appointed after the
    elections.

    Corona was the most prominent of those accused as Gloria’s midnight appointees,
    an allegation that the Supreme Court (SC) thumbed down saying that the
    constitutional ban does not cover the judiciary, although part of it was said
    to have meant the SC.

    Apparently, this was the SC decision that Noynoy has banked on in appointing
    the judges but there was still a shade of duplicity in his insistence on the appointments
    which initially the administration deemed as not in accordance with its yellow
    values.

    Gloria would have been moved by Noynoy’s argument that he stayed up until 11
    p.m. working on the appointment papers of the judges prior to the day the
    election ban starts since it sounded like it was the first time he worked until
    11 p.m. as president, while Gloria had been saying it was a daily routine for
    her.

    Nonetheless, a government appointment takes effect after an official has been
    sworn into office making the postings of Noynoy fall still within the
    constitutional prohibition, which is an argument the defenders of Noynoy also
    raised during the debates on EO 2.

    While Noynoy would definitely lean on the SC decision that favored Corona as
    basis for defending the judiciary appointments as not covered by the election
    law ban, the self-contradicting character of his administration will be seen in
    full view.

    It was considered a gross injustice under Gloria by him and the yellows, but
    now it is perfectly legal under Noynoy.

    Noynoy and his yellows’ duplicity is sickening.

    • jamesgeorge

      The president”s explanation was in detail and very clear! The situations between Gloria and him were entirely different and yet here you are posting a comment as if the president spoke in Russian? Read it gain slowly this time!

    • Komen To

      your English is good but better if you can understand what you read. Tell me, was it made during election period? Is the president going out this election? Hmmm, is that you Pandak writing?

    • Guest

      Kasi gusto ni GMA na mangampanya sa distrito niya sa Pampanga. Huwag na,
      panalo na lang din siya, e bakit pa siya mangangampanya?

  • farmerpo

    In my very limited layman’s brain, ‘midnight appointment’ means appointments done by an outgoing president within two months prior to a presidential election. Medyo konti lang ang baon kong legal knowledge pero parang hindi midnight appointment ere dahil di naman paalis pa si Pnoy.

    • Gu3st

      aside from the one you mentioned, midnight appointments also covers during election time..

      • The Kapre

        Correct. But if it happens even a second before the prescribed period, then it is NOT midnight appointment, is it?

  • $14334231

    ilan sa mga appointees ang liberal at kkk ng kanyang mga kkk????…..

  • wawa2172

    Its midnight appointment, pareho lang nang kay GMA when she appointed Corona. Walang pinag kaiba and its against the law.

    • The Kapre

      Can you read bro?

  • Brax82

    Hay nako! Noytardz go ahead and defend his lies haha. Morons!

  • boybakal

    With Pnoy’s explanation….he thinks filipinos are mostly stupid.

  • eltee2012

    >>>kahit ano pa ang ilagay ng mga reader ng news na ito ay wala rin naman patutunguhan. Maliban na lamang kung ang 120 na Representatives at mga senators ( na nagkaisang tanggalin si dating SC CJ sa utos ni Ngungoy) ay magsasalita laban dito.. pero mahirap ang sitwasyon nila..baka matalo sa eleksyon at mawala ang pork barrel nila.

  • Guest

    Meron din naman natanggap na award si Gloria Arroyo, outstanding in corruption. Nag-iisa lang siya at walang makakatalo sa kanyang ginawa.

  • Guest

    Masarap na nga ang buhay ni GMA sa kulungan no, libre air-con libre bahay, free food. Ano ba ba ang hahanapin niya? Kumpleto na di ba?

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