DE CASTRO vs. JUDICIAL BAR COUNCIL G.R. No.

191002 | March 17, 2010 FACTS This case is based on multiple cases field ith dealt ith the contro!ers" that has arisen from the forthcomin# compulsor" re$uirement of %hief &ustice 'uno on Ma" 17, 2010 or se!en da"s after the presidential election. (n )ecember 22, 2009, %on#ressman Matias *. )efensor, an e+ officio member of the &,%, addressed a letter to the &,%, re$uestin# that the process for nominations to the office of the %hief &ustice be commenced immediatel". -n its &anuar" 1., 2010 meetin# en banc, the &,% passed a resolution hich stated that the" ha!e unanimousl" a#reed to start the process of fillin# up the position of %hief &ustice to be !acated on Ma" 17, 2010 upon the retirement of the incumbent %hief &ustice. /s a result, the &,% opened the position of %hief &ustice for application or recommendation, and published for that purpose its announcement in the 'hilippine )ail" -n$uirer and the 'hilippine 0tar. -n its meetin# of 1ebruar" ., 2010, the &,% resol!ed to proceed to the ne+t step of announcin# the names of the follo in# candidates to in!ite to the public to file their s orn complaint, ritten report, or opposition, if an", not later than 1ebruar" 22, 2010. /lthou#h it has alread" be#un the process for the fillin# of the position of %hief &ustice 'uno in accordance ith its rules, the &,% is not "et decided on hen to submit to the 'resident its list of nominees for the position due to the contro!ers" in this case bein# unresol!ed. The compiled cases hich led to this case and the petitions of inter!enors called for either the prohibition of the &,% to pass the shortlist, mandamus for the &,% to pass the shortlist, or that the act of appointin# the ne+t %hief &ustice b" GM/ is a midni#ht appointment. / precedent fre$uentl" cited b" the parties is the In Re Appointments Dated March 30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenz ela and Hon. !lacido ". Vallarta as # d$es of the R%& of "ranch '(, "a$o &it) and of "ranch (*, &a+anat an &it), respecti,el), shortl" referred to here as the Valenz ela case, b" hich the %ourt held that 0ection 12, /rticle *-prohibited the e+ercise b" the 'resident of the po er to appoint to 3udicial positions durin# the period therein fi+ed. ISSUES a. b. c. 45N the petitioners ha!e le#al standin#6 45N there is 3usticiable contro!ers" that is ripe for 3udicial determination6 45N the incumbent 'resident appoint the ne+t %hief &ustice6 RULING

d.

45N mandamus and prohibition ill lie to compel the submission of the shortlist of nominees b" the &,%6

Petitioners have legal stan ing !e"a#se s#"h re$#ire%ent &or this "ase 'as 'aive !( the Co#rt. 7e#al standin# is a peculiar concept in constitutional la because in some cases, suits are not brou#ht b" parties ho ha!e been personall" in3ured b" the operation of a la or an" other #o!ernment act but b" concerned citi8ens, ta+pa"ers or !oters ho actuall" sue in the public interest.9 ,ut e!en if, strictl" spea:in#, the petitioners ;are not co!ered b" the definition, it is still ithin the ide discretion of the %ourt to ai!e the re$uirement and so remo!e the impediment to its addressin# and resol!in# the serious constitutional $uestions raised.9 There is a )#sti"ia!le iss#e 4e hold that the petitions set forth an actual case or contro!ers" that is ripe for 3udicial determination. The realit" is that the &,% alread" commenced the proceedin#s for the selection of the nominees to be included in a short list to be submitted to the 'resident for consideration of hich of them ill succeed %hief &ustice 'uno as the ne+t %hief &ustice. /lthou#h the position is not "et !acant, the fact that the &,% be#an the process of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, althou#h it has "et to decide hether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent out#oin# 'resident or to the ne+t 'resident, ma:es the situation ripe for 3udicial determination, because the ne+t steps are the public inter!ie of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of candidates, and the ;inter!ie of constitutional e+perts, as ma" be needed.9 The resolution of the contro!ers" ill surel" settle < ith finalit" < the na##in# $uestions that are pre!entin# the &,% from mo!in# on ith the process that it alread" be#an, or that are reasons persuadin# the &,% to desist from the rest of the process. PRO*IBITION UNDER SECTION +,- ARTICLE .II DOES NOT APPL/ TO APPOINT0ENTS TO FILL A .ACANC/ IN T*E SUPRE0E COURT OR TO OT*ER APPOINT0ENST TO T*E JUDICIAR/. T o constitutional pro!isions seemin#l" in conflict= The first, 0ection 12, /rticle *-- >?+ecuti!e )epartment@, pro!ides= 0ection 12. T o months immediatel" before the ne+t presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a 'resident or /ctin# 'resident shall not ma:e appointments- e+cept temporar" appointments to e+ecuti!e positions hen continued !acancies therein ill pre3udice public ser!ice or endan#er public safet".

The 0upreme %ourt shall be composed of a %hief &ustice and fourteen /ssociate &ustices. 12 and 1B of the /rticle. >1@. states= 0ection A. J#sti&i"ation o& the S#1re%e Co#rt2 First.on the basis of the >%onstitutional@ %ommissionEs records. amon# others. or se!en Members. fi!e. /rticle *--. and :ept subser!ient to the #eneral intent of the hole enactment. it cannot be disputed that the Valenz ela dictum did not firml" rest on the deliberations of the %onstitutional %ommission.of the ord shall < an imperati!e. e ha!e no doubt that the %onstitutional %ommission confined the prohibition to appointments made in the ?+ecuti!e )epartment.>&udicial )epartment@.% and their sub3ectin# the nomination and screenin# of candidates for 3udicial positions to the unhurried and deliberate prior process of the &. 0ections A>1@ imposes on the 'resident the imperati.9 as .e. 0ection 1A. three > i. the" could ha!e e+plicitl" done so. the 7e#islati!e >/rticle *-@. Third. The %onstitution consists of 1. 0ection 1A. The" could not ha!e i#nored the meticulous orderin# of the pro!isions. /rticle *--. the election ban had no application to appointments to the %ourt of /ppeals. st"lin#.% ensured that there ould no lon#er be midni#ht appointments to the &udiciar". The fact that 0ection 1A and 0ection 1B refer onl" to appointments ithin the ?+ecuti!e )epartment renders conclusi!e that 0ection 12 also applies onl" to the ?+ecuti!e )epartment. /rticle *-. most li:el" in 0ection A >1@. -t ma" sit en +anc or in its discretion. /rticle *-. There is no $uestion that one of the reasons underl"in# the adoption of 0ection 12 as part of /rticle *-. and 0ection 1B are ob!iousl" of the same character. in that the" affect the po er of the 'resident to appoint. Fifth. i. /rticle *--. /s earlier stated. operatin# to impose a dut" that ma" be enforced < should not be disre#arded. 199. 0uch meticulousness indicates that the or#ani8ation and arran#ement of the pro!isions of the %onstitution ere not arbitraril" or himsicall" done b" the framers. and.itself.e lan$ a$e. the ?+ecuti!e >/rticle *--@. Ce assured that . the usa#e in 0ection A>1@.% as precisel) intended to deDpolitici8e the &udiciar" b" doin# a a" ith the inter!ention of the %ommission on /ppointments. because their establishment of the &. it lists the po ers !ested b" the %onstitution in the 'resident. and arran#in# the %onstitution. (f the 2F sections in /rticle *--. /rticle *---.does not appl" as ell to all other appointments in the &udiciar". The arran#ement as a true reco#nition of the principle of separation of po ers that underlies the political structure /s can be seen.pre!ailed because it stron$er ne$ati. the nonDapplicabilit" of 0ection 12. Cad the framers intended to e+tend the prohibition contained in 0ection 12.for the 'resident to fill the !acanc" in the 0upreme %ourt as undoubtedl" a special pro!ision to establish a definite mandate for the 'resident as the appointin# po er. the creation of the &. /n" !acanc" shall be filled ithin ninet" da"s from the occurrence thereof.The other. Moreo!er. Gi!en the bac:#round and rationale for the prohibition in 0ection 12. hich then submitted to the 'resident for consideration the nominations for the ei#ht !acancies in the %ourt of /ppeals. in di!ision of three.is de!oted to the ?+ecuti!e )epartment. 0ection 12. The failure b" the 'resident to do so ill be a clear disobedience to the %onstitution. /rticle *-. /rticle *-.e..e d t) to ma:e an appointment of a Member of the 0upreme %ourt ithin 90 da"s from the occurrence of the !acanc". and cannot be defeated b" mere 3udicial interpretation in Valenz ela to the effect that 0ection 12. /rticle *-. but purposel" made to reflect their intention and manifest their !ision of hat the %onstitution should contain. The records of the deliberations of the %onstitutional %ommission re!eal that the framers de!oted time to meticulousl" draftin#. /rticle *--.as bein# e$uall" applicable to the appointment of Members of the 0upreme %ourt in /rticle *--. /lthou#h Valenz ela came to hold that the prohibition co!ered e!en 3udicial appointments.couched in Second. To hold li:e the %ourt did in Valenz ela that 0ection 12 e+tends to appointments to the &udiciar" further undermines the intent of the %onstitution of ensurin# the independence of the &udicial )epartment from the ?+ecuti!e and 7e#islati!e )epartments. /rticle *-. that e!er" part must be considered to#ether ith the other parts.%. and 0ection 1B@ concern the appointin# po ers of the 'resident. -ndeed. /rticles. three of hich embod" the allocation of the a esome po ers of #o!ernment amon# the three #reat departments. The" ould ha!e easil) and s rel) ritten the prohibition made e+plicit in 0ection 12. 0ection A >1@.as to eliminate midni$ht appointments from bein# made b" an o t$oin$ %hief ?+ecuti!e. Thereb". Fourth.% itself hen it met on March 9. The presidential po er of appointment is dealt ith in 0ections 1A. 0ection12. and the &udicial )epartments >/rticle *---@.constitutionalit" of +++ appointments9 to the %ourt of /ppeals in li#ht of the forthcomin# presidential elections. The 90Dda" limitation fi+ed in 0ection A>1@. to discuss the $uestion raised b" some sectors about the . The framers did not need to e+tend the prohibition to appointments in the &udiciar".9 This confirmation as accepted b" the &. 0ection 12.to appointments in the &udiciar" as confirmed b" then 0enior /ssociate &ustice Re#alado to the &. 0uch a holdin# ill tie the . This conclusion is consistent ith the rule that e!er" part of the statute must be interpreted ith reference to the conte+t .to the appointment of Members of the 0upreme %ourt.

because the appointee can also become beholden to the appointin# authorit". instead of the current incumbent 'resident. /s a matter of fact. trust. the difference +et-een the shortest possi+le period of the ban of 109 da"s and the 90Dda" mandator" period for appointments@ in hich the out#oin# 'resident ould be in no position to compl" ith the constitutional dut" to fill up a !acanc" in the 0upreme %ourt. hom ha!e 3RIT OF 0ANDA0US DOES NOT LIE AGAINST T*E JBC Mandam s shall issue hen an" tribunal. +++ The pro!ision clearl" refers to an appointee comin# into the 0upreme %ourt from the outside. corporation.e.. -t spea:s of candidates for the 0upreme %ourt. a nonDmember of the %ourt aspirin# to become one. /rticle *--. because it is mandated b" la G > c@ the defendant unla full" ne#lects the performance of the dut" en3oined b" la G >d@ the act to be performed is ministerial.&udiciar" and the 0upreme %ourt to the fortunes or misfortunes of political leaders !"in# for the 'residenc" in a presidential election. The ar#ument has been raised to the effect that there ill be no need for the incumbent 'resident to appoint durin# the prohibition period the successor of %hief &ustice 'uno ithin the conte+t of 0ection A >1@. -n contrast. 0ection A >F@.sa"s= +++. . -t is safe to assume that the framers of the %onstitution could not ha!e intended such an absurdit". the appointment b" the incumbent 'resident does not run the same ris: of compromisin# 3udicial independence. lettin# the elections fall on Ma" . The result is that there are at least 19 occasions >i. 2010. 2010. The Members of the 0upreme %ourt +++ shall be appointed b" the 'resident from a list of at least three nominees prepared b" the &udicial and . /rticle *---. Seventh. /rticle *-. or Ma" 1A. Sixth. %onse$uentl". because an" a" there ill still be about A2 da"s of the 90 da"s mandated in 0ection A>1@. or station. not of those ho are alread" members or sittin# 3ustices of the %ourt. because it is focused onl" on the comin# !acanc" occurrin# from %hief &ustice 'unoEs retirement b" Ma" 17. in an e.re$uires the re#ular elections to be held on the second Monda" of Ma". the isdom of ha!in# the ne 'resident. the period of the prohibition is 112 da"s. the follo in# re$uisites must be complied ith= >a@ the plaintiff has a clear le#al ri#ht to the act demandedG > +@ it must be the dut" of the defendant to perform the act.. 0uch appointments need no confirmation. 0ec.ar %ouncil for an" !acanc". officer or person unla full" ne#lects the performance of an act that the la specificall" en3oins as a dut" resultin# from an office. not discretionar"G and >e@ there is no appeal or an" other plain. 1or mandam s to lie.remainin#. speed" and ade$uate remed" in the ordinar" course of la .% list is necessar" at all for the 'resident < an" 'resident < to appoint a %hief &ustice if the appointee is to come from the ran:s of the sittin# 3ustices of the 0upreme %ourt. The ar#ument is fla ed. -t i#nores the need to appl" 0ection A>1@ to e. -f the re#ular presidential elections are held on Ma" . the period of the prohibition is 109 da"s. 9. and cannot ensure 3udicial independence. at the earliest. all of pre!iousl" been !etted b" the &. ?ither period of the prohibition is lon#er than the full mandator" 90Dda" period to fill the !acanc" in the 0upreme %ourt. at the latest. appoint the ne+t %hief &ustice is itself suspect. e can e!en raise a doubt on hether a &.treme case.%. Mandam s is not a!ailable to direct the e+ercise of a 3ud#ment or discretion in a particular a". that is. -f such elections are held on Ma" 1A. -t is proper hen the act a#ainst hich it is directed is one addressed to the discretion of the tribunal or officer. board. /rticle *--.er) situation of a !acanc" in the 0upreme %ourt.. precisel" because her term ill end b" &une F0.