THE Supreme Court (SC) on Friday called for sobriety amid the public outrage over its recent ruling allowing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the successor of outgoing Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

Court administration and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez made the call following the massive protest rally staged by various groups in Manila to condemn the SC decision.

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At a press briefing, Marquez said that while it is the constitutional right of the group to hold the protest rallies, a resort to violence and illegal means will not hold water in a court of law.

Marquez was apparently referring to the covenant to be signed by presidentiables together with the National Press Club.

“It seems to me that many of them are the same people who have given their views on this issue already even before the Court issued the ruling. I can’t blame them for standing by their views. I just hope they would not resort to violence,” he said.

Marquez also warned that members of the Bar who would “go beyond the line” and join violent acts in protest to the SC ruling and try to pressure the Court in illegal ways could be disbarred.

He said in its ruling, the High Court gave weight to the opinion of retired SC Justice Florenz Regalado among the views submitted by members of the Constitutional Commission (Con-Com).

“He (Regalado) is a very respected jurist. He holds the record of having the highest rating in the Bar exams,” he explained.

The Court junked the claim of other Con-Com delegates like former elections chair Christian Monsod and Fr. Joaquin Bernas.

Retired Court of Appeals associate justice Regalado Maambong meanwhile defended the SC for its ruling on the chief justice appointment issue.

Maambong, a delegate to the 1986 Con-Com that framed the 1987 Constitution, rebutted the claim of his fellow delegate Monsod on the controversy.

“There is no way that we can prevent the President to appoint the (next) Chief Justice. There's no problem about the SC decision,” he said.

Lawyers, militant leaders, and a few candidates in the May polls trooped to the SC building in Padre Faura Street in Manila and expressed their indignation against the nine justices who voted to exempt the chief justice post from the constitutional ban on appointments.

Led by Senator Francis Pangilinan, former member of the Judicial and Bar Council who contested the SC ruling, less than a hundred protesters reiterated their stand that the ban on midnight appointments covers the chief justice post.

Those who joined were former Socio Economic Planning adviser Solita “Winnie” Monsod, lawyer Adel Tamano, former Arroyo peace process adviser Teresita Deles, Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino, Transparency and Accountability Network head Vince Lazatin, and presidential candidate Senator Jamby Madrigal.

Using black candles, they burned a tarpaulin with photos of the magistrates who cast the majority vote - Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Teresita Leonardo - De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Mendoza, and Mariano del Castillo – after praying over them using sticks of incense.

Winnie Monsod said she was “totally outraged” with the SC ruling.

“SC, you are the bulwark of democracy. Can you listen to us? Defend the Constitution. Do not interpret it,” she said using bullhorn and megaphone.

She also commended Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the only magistrate who dissented from the ruling and defended the minority position during deliberations of the SC last Wednesday. (JCV/Sunnex)