Watching the 2009 Supreme Court

You may be aware that out of the 15 Supreme Court justices, 12 were appointees of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There’s nothing wrong with that, considering that the President has the constitutional duty to appoint Supreme Court justices.

You may also be aware that 7 justices will retire next year, 2009. That means PGMA is duty-bound to appoint seven new Supreme Court justices. Two of the seven retirees were appointed by former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada. That means that before the 2010 Presidential election, 14 out of the 15 Supreme Court justices are PGMA appointees. Only the Chief Justice, Reynato Puno, will remain a non-PGMA appointee.

The judiciary, of course, is the third branch of government. The other two branches are the executive and legislative. Each one is co-equal and acts as a check against the other two. The system of checks-and-balances will only work if each branch is truly independent.

Imagine this scenario: the executive branch is headed by PGMA, the legislative is controlled by political party/parties allied to PGMA, and almost all (14 out of 15) of the Supreme Court justices in 2009 are PGMA appointees.

This scenario led to the re-launch of the SC Appointments Watch (SCAW), a coalition which is preparing to monitor the selection process for Supreme Court justices. It’s a colation composed of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), Libertas, Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), Transparency and Accountability Network, among others.

Some say these groups have a overactive imagination and that the fears are unfounded. After all, it’s not the fault of PGMA that she is required by the Constitution to appoint justices. Others say that the fears of a less-than-independent Supreme Court is not unfounded, as exemplified during the Martial Law years. Some say it doesn’t matter, because assuming the worst fear turns out to be true, there’s nothing you can do about it.

What say you?


  1. Let us support the SC Appointments Watch (SCAW). As citizens of the Republic, we are stakeholders in keeping our country one of the enduring bastions of liberty in Asia and the Pacific. We might need to remind ourselves of the statement, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” so that we should be unselfish in supporting SCAW. There are other ways of preserving our freedom and this is one them. We owe this to the future generations of Filipinos. Let us not bequeth to them a country that is known as corrupt, a country where journalists are killed, or a country where crime pays.

  2. i heard from the grapevine that the solgen will be appointed to the sc, as well as others like her, maybe the omb also, lets throw in the doj sec, god forbid… and then …. the press sec, might as well the peace adviser too, or the natio sec adviser……… well, well, well.

    and they say we should not be interested hmmmm…

    or ‘meh’…

  3. I think it’s better to be paranoid than to be complacent. But i have to say that there are some qualified people in the short list, namely: Atty. Robles and Atty. Villanueva.

  4. SolGen Agnes Devanadera (Ateneo)
    BIR Commissioner Jose Mario Bunag (Ateneo)
    CA Justice Mariano del Castillo (Ateneo)
    CA Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando (Ateneo)
    CA Justice Andres Reyes (Ateneo)
    CA Justice Juan Enriquez (FEU)
    CA Justice Portia Hormachuelos (University of the Visayas)
    CA Justice Martin Villarama (MLQU)
    CA Justice Josefina Salonga (UP)
    SB Presiding Justice Diosdado Peralta (UST)
    SB Justice Edilberto Sandoval (FEU)
    SB Justice Francisco Villaruz (UP)
    Real Estate Businessman Rodolfo Robles
    Ateneo Dean Cesar Villanueva (Ateneo)

  5. naive i may sound but i believe gma’s power over the sc justices end with their appointment. after that, separation na uli ng powers yun. well, i hope this is not just wishful thinking.

  6. Cguro, the “magic seven” is, like chacha, just another “baseless political paranoia.” Cguro, dpat let’s not throw fault at GMA, nwei, the constitution, as worded, is to blame. Pti, d nmn tayo ngratify ng consti (I’m speaking for my generation). Pero, sabi kasi ni Pareng Arthur (John), express ratification and acquiescence are the same banana, i.e., by not amending the consti, we are, therefore, expressly consenting to its legitimacy and wisdom. Pero malay mo the moves toward chacha and impending appointment of seven justices the next year (as a necessary response to the coincidence of seven justices retiring a year prior the elections) are both based on good intentions—as always. Malay natin. Enwei, sabi naman ni Pareng Burke: “A thing may look specious in theory, and yet be ruinous in practice; a thing may look evil in theory, and yet be in practice excellent.” Malay mo, it will turn out to be excellent for all parties concerned. Pati, sabi nga ni Pare (E. Burke), “all that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” O, e di kasalanan pala ng good men. Wherefore, I move for the immediate dismissal of this controversy against the government and its officials, your Honor.

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