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21 - De Castro v JBC


This case has several petitioners ranging from Senators, Lawyers, Chairmen, and concerning organizations all
questioning the same thing: the principal legal question of whether or not the incumbent President can appoint
the successor of Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement. The question is undoubtedly impressed with
transcendental importance to the nation because the appointment of the Chief Justice is any President’s most
important appointment. The conflicting provisions are Art. VII, Sec. 15 and Art. VIII, Sec. 9.

Considering, Art. VII, under Executive Department,

Art. VII, Sec. 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.

In relation to Art. VII, under Judicial Department,

Art. VII, Sec. 9. The members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts shall be appointed by the
president from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the judicial and bar council for every vacancy. Such
appointments need no confirmation.

For the lower courts, the president shall issue the appointments within ninety days from the submission of the

These cases trace their genesis to the controversy that has arisen from the forthcoming compulsory retirement of
Chief Justice Puno on May 17, 2010, just 7 days after the coming presidential elections on May 10, 2010.

Whether or not the prohibition against presidential appointments under Art. VII, Sec. 15 (Midnight Appointment
Ban), does not extend to appointments in the Judiciary.


We deny the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit, for all the matters being thereby raised and argued,
not being new, have all been resolved by the decision of March 17, 2010.

The decision of March 17, 2010 has fittingly observed:

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. We cannot permit the meaning of
the Constitution to be stretched to any unintended point in order to suit the purposes of any quarter.

ACCORDINGLY, the motions for reconsideration are denied with finality.