Thursday, April 06, 2006

The President and the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has just finished oral arguments on the legality of Batasang Pambansa 880 (B.P.880) and the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR) this week and is due to resolve the issue once memorandas by both the respondents and the petitioners have been submitted on April 17.

The issue on B.P.880 and the CPR is the last of three presidential

acts to be questioned before the High Court.

The issue on the legality of Presidential Proclamation 1017 and Executive Order 474 have been discussed in oral arguments on March 17 and February 21 respectively.

Supreme Court Spokesperson Ismael Khan indicated that if the Court does not decide on the matters before April 10, there's a strong chance that decisions will come out in Baguio City where the Supreme Court will hold its summer session there.
Resolving these issues is interesting because it puts to test the checks-and-balances between the Judiciary and the Executive. Whatever the decisions on these three will be may impact on the relationship of the Executive and the Judiciary.

When Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban was chosen by President Arroyo over the most senior associate justice who is Reynato Puno, some critics say, that with that act, the President has dipped her fingers into the Court. Some have gone further and said that she has just compromised the independence of the Court.

With appointments clearly subjected to the whims of the President (it being provided for by the constitution is of course a different matter), one cannot therefore be faulted if he reads motives into why the President appoints someone over somebody.

Right now, she has 10 appointees in the 15-member Court.

Deciding on these cases, all three being presidential acts, will be a chance for the Court to assert its independence or prove its critics correct.

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