Will SC justices rule against themselves?
Regarding former chief justice (CJ) Artemio Panganiban’s column (“New JBC rule needs clarity,” 5/31/20), we submit that the newfangled Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) rule curbing the President’s capricious exercise of his power to appoint associate justices and chief justice of the Supreme Court is meant to address the jaw-dropping anomaly and mockery that the appointment of retired CJ Teresita Leonardo-de Castro was.
Despite the fact that De Castro was very near the retirement age of 70 (just a few weeks away), President Duterte handed her the CJ position obviously for no other reason but to reward her for being the most aggressive frontliner in the cabal to oust his pet peeve in the high court at that time, former CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno. De Castro was thus able to secure for herself millions more in retirement benefits as CJ, without accomplishing anything that taxpayers should be thankful to her for. If the JBC was totally okay with that, why bother rocking the boat?
Taking effect on June 8, 2020, the new rule now provides, among other things, that only those who can still serve at least two and a half years before reaching 70 years of age may be appointed associate justice or chief justice of the Supreme Court. But JBC top member, retired Supreme Court associate justice Jose Mendoza, inserted the unwritten colatilla that the novel rule does not apply to incumbent Supreme Court justices coveting the CJ post. Uh oh, there goes the “old boys’ club” mentality again!
Panganiban thus wants this gap in the rule “clarified” …by the Supreme Court? In saying that sitting high court justices are exempt from the aforesaid ban, is Mendoza right or wrong? Seriously, would the current Supreme Court members rule against themselves? We are not holding our breath. Being more “supreme” than anyone else, they have overruled the JBC which tried to encroach upon their “supremacy” before, and they can most assuredly overrule it again.
Jan Vincent L. Martinez,
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