HOUSE Speaker Prospero Nograles describes as “dangerous” the statement made by Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the appointment of a new chief justice.

“That's a dangerous statement because the final legal arbiter in any legal conflict or issue is still the SC (Supreme Court) itself. The Chief Executive only implements. This will cause chaos when the Chief Executive refuses to recognize a co-equal body,” he said.

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Aquino, the standard bearer of Liberal Party in the coming elections, surprised the political and legal community when he announced that if elected, he would not recognize the chief justice appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Just recently, issues were raised as to whether President Arroyo would name the new head of the Supreme Court (SC) or the task must be left to the new president.

Chief Justice Reynato Puno is set to retire on May 17 as he reaches the age of 70.

The Philippine Constitution states that a president may not make any appointment within 60 days before election day, thus Arroyo's appointing powers may only be exercised until March 9.

But Malacanang maintained that President Arroyo can exercise her power to appoint the next chief justice, stressing that the position should not be vacated beyond 90 days.

Quezon Representative Erin Tañada, Aquino's spokesman, defended Senator Noynoy, saying there is nothing irresponsible or arrogant in Aquino's statement.

“He was just stating the fact that the Constitution should be followed and that there should be no midnight appointments. The appointment of a Chief Justice in waiting is a midnight appointment since Chief Justice (Reynato) Puno has not retired from the Supreme Court,” he said.

Tañada said that Aquino is only respecting the usual process once a chief justice retires, wherein an Acting Chief Justice is chosen among the Associate Justices until a permanent one is chosen by a process indicated in the Constitution.

He also cited that former President Diosdado Macapagal, Arroyo's father, posed opposition against "midnight appointments" during his term by revoking the midnight appointment of Central Bank Chief Dominador Aytona made by his predecessor Carlos Garcia. The SC upheld Macapagal's revocation. (Angela Casauay/Sunnex)