PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — LAWMAKERS yesterday slammed Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Noynoy Aquino for his “irresponsible” remarks that he will not recognize a new chief justice named by President Macapagal-Arroyo.
A number of congressmen said Aquino’s statement shows disrespect to the highest tribunal and puts pressure on the principle of judicial independence.
Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzales, Jr., a known Malacañang ally, said it was too early for Aquino to announce a decision on a Constitutional issue that will require the final say of the Supreme Court.
“Assuming without concluding that the Supreme Court upholds the appointment of Pres. Arroyo of the next Chief Justice, will Sen. Aquino abide by that decision?” asked Gonzales. “Sen. Aquino should not put himself ahead of or on top of the Supreme Court.”
Rep. Janet Garin said Aquino’s statement was “too loaded.”
Baguio City Rep. Mauricio Domogan said he will support any decision of the President regarding the issue. “I hope Noynoy was just speaking on the issue in a very personal context,” he said.
Speaker Prospero Nograles also criticized Aquino.
“That’s a dangerous statement. The final arbiter in any legal conflict or issue is still the Supreme Court itself.”
According to Nograles, Aquino’s statement is very alarming because this may cause chaos if he wins in May.
“The chief executive only implements. This will cause chaos when the chief executive refuses to recognize a co equal body,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong said that should the President appoint the next Chief Justice and Aquino is elected President, the latter has no choice but to recognize Mrs. Aquino’s decision.
Marikina Rep. Marcy Teodoro, on the other hand said that presidential aspirants should respect the appointment because this is an exercise of the President’s constitutional mandate.
“To go against the mandate of PGMA is to go against the Constitution. Besides, the appointment has not been executed and to make a pre-emptive statement would be unfair for the incoming SC chief without respect to the qualifications or judicial experience,” Teodoro said.
Aquino said he will not accept a new Chief Justice appointed by Mrs. Arroyo.
“If elected president, I will not recognize a chief justice appointed by the outgoing president, contrary to the constitutional ban on appointments during the wee hours of her presidency, and contrary to propriety, delicadeza and precedence,” he said in a statement.
Chief Justice Reynato Puno is set to retire on May 17.
Meanwhile, Liberal Party Spokesman Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada defended Aquino, saying that there is nothing irresponsible or arrogant in Aquino’s statement.