ASSOCIATE Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. has written a letter to Chief Justice Renato Puno, ex-officio chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), saying he is no longer interested in the position, the Sun.Star News Exchange reported.

"I would like to inform the Council that if ever I will be considered for the position of Chief Justice, I will formally decline the nomination because I believe that the nomination should be limited to the top three senior associate justices," Velasco said in his letter to the Judicial Bar Council.

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After Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Renato Corona, and Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, Velasco comes fourth in terms of seniority, having been appointed to the Supreme Court (SC) on March 31, 2006, the report further said.

Justice Morales, meanwhile, has signified her intention to join the nominees on the condition that her nomination will be submitted not to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but to the president who wins the May 10 elections.

Morales underlined the constitutional ban on the incumbent president to appoint a chief justice. The so-called midnight appointments, a ruse resorted to by unscrupulous presidents who are on their way out but would still want their cronies in place once they leave, is a practice that is banned by the constitution. The ban starts March 10, Chief Justice Renato Puno retires on May 17.

With little trust on the present administration to play fair and square, what with the "Hello Garci" scandal still very vivid in the people's minds, the so-called vacuum in the Supreme Court that is being drummed up with Puno's mandatory retirement is looked at as a ploy to force the appointment despite the ban. We can't blame the people for believing so. We've had nine years of this type of governance to believe that is very possible.

It's heartening then for those who are on the list to insist on what is right. Like a patch of blue sky in the long rainy days we've been experiencing, its heartening to know that there are those who still believe in delicadeza; that quaint attribute of Filipinos that traditional politicians and the greedy power-holders have deliberately swept aside in their race for more power in the I-me-mine world they want us to remain shackled in.

Delicadeza, after all, brings with it a sense of community, a caring for how the community feels. We haven't seen much of this in the past decade. May the Justices' actions remind those in power that yes, there is still the community, in fact the whole country, which they should have been serving.

May the Justices' actions remind the President that while indeed the JBC will have to submit a shortlist of nominees for the Chief Justice position, such action is but a ministerial role and does not carry with it the belief and agreement that the President is allowed to violate the constitution.