Justices should be picked via democratic process
While Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment by the House of Representatives is a welcome accomplishment, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) insists that the entire membership of the Supreme Court should resign and that the government review the process of selecting Supreme Court justices and come up with a democratic method.
We believe that the issue that got the President’s ire was the Court’s latest decision to distribute the 4,916 hectares of Hacienda Luisita (owned by the Aquino-Cojuangco clan) to 6,296 farmworker-beneficiaries. But while the decision is commendable, we believe it was long overdue and has been used merely to score a point against the President. This decision, whose implementation will likely be delayed by further litigations, comes on the heels of pro-capitalists’ and pro-landlords’ decisions made by the Court. These include the decision to grant the multibillion-peso coconut levy fund to Marcos’ crony Danding Cojuangco; and the reopening and reversal of a Court ruling favorable to flight attendants and stewards (Fasap case) based on a mere letter sent by Lucio Tan’s lawyer.
This Supreme Court has long been tainted as a court that does not serve the interests of the workers and the poor people, a court that only curries favor for factions of the ruling elite, be it the Arroyos, the Lucio Tans and Danding Cojuangcos of the land.
We believe that it is not only Chief Justice Renato Corona who should be impeached. To spare the people from further machinations of the Arroyo-controlled Supreme Court and a court beholden to the ruling class’ interests, we call for the resignation of all the Supreme Court justices.
The government should be given a clear hand to choose new justices who have proven integrity, competence, probity and independence; justices who have clear track records of serving the interest of the people, not factions of the elite.
But we also believe that one of the main reasons we have a factionalized Supreme Court is that the power to appoint Supreme Court justices is in the hands of the president.
While it is true that members of the Supreme Court come from a list provided by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the JBC itself is mostly composed of appointees of the President and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments; thus it is, in turn, controlled by whichever party is in power.
To ensure that the Court will be independent from the executive and legislative branches of government, the President should adopt a transparent approach in choosing the new justices. This can be done in a process that integrates public nomination, consultation and hearings. Independent people’s organizations, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, human rights groups, civil society groups and others should be asked to nominate possible members of the Supreme Court, based on
chair, Partido Lakas ng Masa,
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