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DE CASTRO VS.

JBC
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO vs. JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC) and
PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL – ARROYO
G.R. No. 191002, March 17, 2010
FACTS: The compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno by May
17, 2010 occurs just days after the coming presidential elections on May 10,
2010.
These cases trace their genesis to the controversy that has arisen from the
forthcoming compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Puno on May 17, 2010,
or seven days after the presidential election. Under Section 4(1), in relation
to Section 9, Article VIII, that “vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from
the occurrence thereof” from a “list of at least three nominees prepared by
the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy.” Also considering that
Section 15, Article VII (Executive Department) of the Constitution prohibits
the President or Acting President from making appointments within two
months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the
end of his term, except temporary appointments to executive positions
when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger
public safety.
The JBC, in its en banc meeting of January 18, 2010, unanimously agreed to
start the process of filling up the position of Chief Justice.
Conformably with its existing practice, the JBC “automatically considered”
for the position of Chief Justice the five most senior of the Associate Justices
of the Court, namely: Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio; Associate Justice
Renato C. Corona; Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales; Associate
Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.; and Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B.
Nachura. However, the last two declined their nomination through letters
dated January 18, 2010 and January 25, 2010, respectively.
The OSG contends that the incumbent President may appoint the next Chief
Justice, because the prohibition under Section 15, Article VII of the
Constitution does not apply to appointments in the Supreme Court. It
argues that any vacancy in the Supreme Court must be filled within 90 days
from its occurrence, pursuant to Section 4(1), Article VIII of the Constitution;
that had the framers intended the prohibition to apply to Supreme Court
appointments, they could have easily expressly stated so in the
Constitution, which explains why the prohibition found in Article VII
(Executive Department) was not written in Article VIII (Judicial Department);
and that the framers also incorporated in Article VIII ample restrictions or
limitations on the President’s power to appoint members of the Supreme
Court to ensure its independence from “political vicissitudes” and its
“insulation from political pressures,” such as stringent qualifications for the
positions, the establishment of the JBC, the specified period within which
the President shall appoint a Supreme Court Justice.
A part of the question to be reviewed by the Court is whether the JBC
properly initiated the process, there being an insistence from some of the
oppositors-intervenors that the JBC could only do so once the vacancy has
occurred (that is, after May 17, 2010). Another part is, of course, whether
the JBC may resume its process until the short list is prepared, in view of the
provision of Section 4(1), Article VIII, which unqualifiedly requires the
President to appoint one from the short list to fill the vacancy in the
Supreme Court (be it the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice) within 90 days
from the occurrence of the vacancy.
ISSUE: Whether the incumbent President can appoint the successor of Chief
Justice Puno upon his retirement.
HELD:
Prohibition under Section 15, Article VII does not apply to appointments to
fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court or to other appointments to the
Judiciary.
Two constitutional provisions are seemingly in conflict.
The first, Section 15, Article VII (Executive Department), provides: Section
15. Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up
to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make
appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when
continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public
safety.
The other, Section 4 (1), Article VIII (Judicial Department), states: Section 4.
(1). The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen
Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in division of three,
five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from
the occurrence thereof.
Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15,
Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could
have explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous
ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surely written the
prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally
applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article
VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such specification was
not done only reveals that the prohibition against the President or Acting
President making appointments within two months before the next
presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s or Acting
President’s term does not refer to the Members of the Supreme Court.
Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15,
Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could
have explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous
ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surely written the
prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally
applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article
VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such specification was
not done only reveals that the prohibition against the President or Acting
President making appointments within two months before the next
presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s or Acting
President’s term does not refer to the Members of the Supreme Court.
Section 14, Section 15, and Section 16 are obviously of the same character,
in that they affect the power of the President to appoint. The fact that
Section 14 and Section 16 refer only to appointments within the Executive
Department renders conclusive that Section 15 also applies only to the
Executive Department. This conclusion is consistent with the rule that every
part of the statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e.
that every part must be considered together with the other parts, and kept
subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. It is absurd to
assume that the framers deliberately situated Section 15 between Section
14 and Section 16, if they intended Section 15 to cover all kinds of
presidential appointments. If that was their intention in respect of
appointments to the Judiciary, the framers, if only to be clear, would have
easily and surely inserted a similar prohibition in Article VIII, most likely
within Section 4 (1) thereof.














CASE DIGEST

ARTURO M. DE CASTRO vs. JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL
(JBC)
G. R. No. 191002. March 17, 2010.


FACTS:
This case is based on multiple cases field with dealt with the
controversy that has arisen from the forthcoming compulsory
requirement of Chief Justice Puno on May 17, 2010 or seven days
after the presidential election. On December 22, 2009, Congressman
Matias V. Defensor, an ex officio member of the JBC, addressed a
letter to the JBC, requesting that the process for nominations to the
office of the Chief Justice be commenced immediately. In its January
18, 2010 meeting en banc, the JBC passed a resolution which stated
that they have unanimously agreed to start the process of filling up the
position of Chief Justice to be vacated on May 17, 2010 upon the
retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice. As a result, the JBC
opened the position of Chief Justice for application or
recommendation, and published for that purpose its announcement in
the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star. In its meeting of
February 8, 2010, the JBC resolved to proceed to the next step of
announcing the names of the following candidates to invite to the
public to file their sworn complaint, written report, or opposition, if any,
not later than February 22, 2010. Although it has already begun the
process for the filling of the position of Chief Justice Puno in
accordance with its rules, the JBC is not yet decided on when to
submit to the President its list of nominees for the position due to the
controversy in this case being unresolved. The compiled cases which
led to this case and the petitions of intervenors called for either the
prohibition of the JBC to pass the shortlist, mandamus for the JBC to
pass the shortlist, or that the act of appointing the next Chief Justice
by GMA is a midnight appointment. A precedent frequently cited by
the parties is the In Re Appointments Dated March 30, 1998 of Hon.
Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the
RTC of Branch 62, Bago City and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City,
respectively, shortly referred to here as the Valenzuela case, by which
the Court held that Section 15, Article VII prohibited the exercise by
the President of the power to appoint to judicial positions during the
period therein fixed.


ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the petitioners have legal standing.

2. Whether or not there is justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial
determination.

3. Whether or not the incumbent President can appoint the next Chief
Justice.

4. Whether or not mandamus and prohibition will lie to compel the
submission of the shortlist of nominees by the JBC.


HELD:
1.Petitioners have legal standing because such requirement for this
case was waived by the Court. Legal standing is a peculiar concept in
constitutional law because in some cases, suits are not brought by
parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or
any other government act but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or
voters who actually sue in the public interest.” But even if, strictly
speaking, the petitioners “are not covered by the definition, it is still
within the wide discretion of the Court to waive the requirement and
so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious
constitutional questions raised.”

2. There is a justiciable issue. The court holds that the petitions set
forth an actual case or controversy that is ripe for judicial
determination. The reality is that the JBC already commenced the
proceedings for the selection of the nominees to be included in a short
list to be submitted to the President for consideration of which of them
will succeed Chief Justice Puno as the next Chief Justice. Although
the position is not yet vacant, the fact that the JBC began the process
of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to
decide whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent
outgoing President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe
for judicial determination, because the next steps are the public
interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of
candidates, and the “interview of constitutional experts, as may be
needed.” The resolution of the controversy will surely settle – with
finality – the nagging questions that are preventing the JBC from
moving on with the process that it already began, or that are reasons
persuading the JBC to desist from the rest of the process.

3.Prohibition under section 15, Article VII does not apply to
appointments to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court or to other
appointments to the judiciary. The records of the deliberations of the
Constitutional Commission reveal that the framers devoted time to
meticulously drafting, styling, and arranging the Constitution. Such
meticulousness indicates that the organization and arrangement of
the provisions of the Constitution were not arbitrarily or whimsically
done by the framers, but purposely made to reflect their intention and
manifest their vision of what the Constitution should contain. As can
be seen, Article VII is devoted to the Executive Department, and,
among others, it lists the powers vested by the Constitution in the
President. The presidential power of appointment is dealt with in
Sections 14, 15 and 16 of the Article. Had the framers intended to
extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article VII to the
appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could have
explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous
ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surely written
the prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally
applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in
Article VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII.

4.Writ of mandamus does not lie against the JBC. Mandamus shall
issue when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act that the law specifically
enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station. It is proper
when the act against which it is directed is one addressed to the
discretion of the tribunal or officer. Mandamus is not available to direct
the exercise of a judgment or discretion in a particular way. For
mandamus to lie, the following requisites must be complied with: (a)
the plaintiff has a clear legal right to the act demanded; (b) it must be
the duty of the defendant to perform the act, because it is mandated
by law; (c) the defendant unlawfully neglects the performance of the
duty enjoined by law; (d) the act to be performed is ministerial, not
discretionary; and (e) there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.