08 February 2010

Tyranny of Guile

We witnessed in the past few days a rising public indignation against an attempt of this administration in its dying days to extend power by proxy. We witnessed the brazen and sly attempt to pave the way for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

We have an administration adept at operating in the shadows trying to make a midnight appointment. Not content with appointing all but one of the men and women sitting in the High Court, this outgoing President desires nothing less than absolute domination even at the expense of violating our fundamental law.

We condemn this move to have the outgoing President appoint the next Chief Justice that also paves the way for the appointment of his replacement. This yields a Supreme Court of 15 Justices, all of whom were appointed by the same President. It is yet another manifestation of shameless impunity. It is yet another arrogant display of power. It is yet another breach of our trust. We see clearly through this brash yet clumsy attempt to shield the guilty from accountability.

We are appalled to see brilliant minds so servile and to hear spin spewing from glib but forked tongues. They have all been reduced to peddle silly lies that insult their own intelligence.

We do not claim to be legal luminaries but we can all read and understand our fundamental law. The Chief Justice is a member of the Supreme Court. The President can only appoint a Chief Justice from a list of nominees submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. Midnight appointments are prohibited by the Constitution. This ban stays until June 30. The next President has 45 days from assuming office on June 30 to appoint the next Chief Justice. Our Constitution is not the exclusive domain of lawyers. It is the most fundamental law that binds us all.

We call on anyone with ambition to lead our judicial institutions not to be seduced by power and shun any unconstitutional appointment. There is no honor in empty titles conferred by deceit. There is a price to pay for complicity in criminal acts for those who conspire in this midnight appointment and anyone who benefits from it.

We call on Chief Justice Reynato Puno to rise and meet this defining moment as his judicial career comes to a close. We ask for his strong moral leadership as Chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council and reject calls to transmit to this outgoing President the list of nominees for his replacement. Let not a tarnished and divided Supreme Court be his legacy to our nation.

We admire those who, with the courage of their convictions and in plain and simple words, make their intentions known without equivocation. We are inspired by people who take a stand against the tyranny of guile.

We call on others aspiring to lead our country to likewise condemn in the strongest possible terms the acts of this administration that undermine judicial independence and further erode our democratic institutions. It is their bounden duty to do so. We ask them to also tell our people how they intend to deal with the excesses of this administration when they assume the mantle of leadership.

We find comfort knowing that the abuse will soon come to pass. We vow to work for a better future in the company of people who have the courage to speak truth to power.

We remain committed to work for good governance and the restoration of decency and propriety in public service.

We stand as one in defense of our Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sen. Vicente Paterno
Sen. Leticia Ramos Shahani
Tomas Africa
Ariel Aguirre
Rafael Alunan III
Angelito Banayo
Leonor Briones
Victor Gerardo Bulatao
Sostenes Campillo Jr.
Elfren Cruz
Isagani Cruz
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz
Rodel Cruz
Jose Cuisia
Guillermo Cunanan
Karina Constantino David
Edilberto De Jesus Jr.
Ramon Del Rosario Jr.
Teresa Quintos Deles
Carlos Dominguez
Jesus Estanislao
Fiorello Estuar
Fulgencio Factoran Jr.
Ernesto Garilao
Cecilia Garrucho
Milwida Guevarra
Philip Ella Juico
Nixon Kua
Lina Laigo
Ernest Leung
Alberto Lim
Narzalina Lim
Juan Miguel Luz
Gregorio Magdaraog
Jose Molano Jr.
Vitaliano NaƱagas
Norberto Nazareno
Imelda Nicolas
Cayetano Paderanga
Guillermo Parayno Jr.
Felicito Payumo
Cesar Purisima
Victor Ramos
Amina Rasul
Walfrido Reyes
Sixto Roxas
Miguel Perez Rubio
Juan Santos
Cesar Sarino
Corazon Juliano Soliman
Hector Soliman
Jaime Galvez Tan
Ricardo Mirasol Tan
Wilfrido Villacorta

(Philippine Star, 8 February 2010, p. 17)

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