THE last election campaign involved an assortment of issues and concerns. One of which was the retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at that time.

The epicenter of the debate was whether or not the sitting President should appoint a replacement for the vacancy that was going to be created. In question was not only the legality, but also the morality of making such an appointment, more popularly known as a midnight appointment.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The rule was that the sitting President was prohibited by the Constitution to make appointments two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of her term. The exceptions were if it was only a temporary appointment or if not making such an appointment will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.

The vacancy subject of the controversy transpired a week after the presidential election, clearly within the regulated period of two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of her term.

Regardless of conflicting and contradictory opinions, legal or political or otherwise, the Supreme Court decided that the sitting President had the power and authority to appoint a new Chief Justice without violating the Constitution. Armed with this ruling from the Supreme Court, the sitting President appointed a new Chief Justice.

The new President who was still a candidate at that time announced that he would not recognize the said appointment if he wins in the election. Carrying this position all through out the campaign, among other positions of course, the new President eventually emerged as the winner.

The next battleground was before whom the new President would take his oath of office as, in accordance with tradition but not required by law, the new President usually takes his oath of office before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Prior to such inauguration, speculations spread as to who will administer the oath of office of the new President. That it was not going to be before the Chief Justice in order to be consistent with his position against the appointment was clear, obvious and apparent. That it was going to be before a barangay official from the hometown of the new President just to prove whatever point was childlike, immature and overacting.

In any case, the Chief Justice is the Chief Justice now, never mind that he was not specially recognized during the inaugural ceremonies and was merely included in the general greetings to members of the Supreme Court which in fact he was anyway; and the new President is the President now, never mind that he has no choice but to recognize all officials legally holding office despite his personal objection, protestation or aversion.

At this point, then, there is no more use making a fuss over this dispute or creating a scene about this disagreement. The task at hand is for both of our leaders to lead their respective departments, the co-equal branches of government that are the executive and the judiciary, in order to uplift the lives of our people.

The challenge for the Chief Justice now is for him to prove his competence, integrity, probity and independence. These are requirements anyway for a person to be qualified to serve in the Supreme Court. In the course of his serious and sincere efforts to prove himself, our people will be better served.

The challenge for the new President now is to show to everybody the kind of person who embodies, personifies and symbolizes his idea of who can be a member of the Supreme Court. This he can very well do by making his very first appointment of a Justice to the Supreme Court to fill up an existing vacancy. Through his number one appointment, he is computed to be appointing around four justices during his entire term, our people will be better served.

It is hoped that the new President makes wise decisions, not only in appointing a new Justice of the Supreme Court, but likewise in the other affairs of the state. It is wished that the new President looks forward and not backwards. It is prayed that the new President will not be placed in a situation like the pot calling the kettle black.

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