Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Appointment of a New Chief Justice - Make or Break the High Court's Image

If President Arroyo wants to preserve the integrity and image of the Supreme Court, she should refrain from appointing a new Chief Justice and leave the decision to the next president. Even if the SC ruled that she can name the next Chief Justice, she also has the option not to do it, for the sake of preventing any speculation on the motive behind the appointment.

At this time, an appointment by President Arroyo will only suffer from credibility, with people suspecting that the Supreme Court is controlled by the President since all the justices are appointed by her. The seeming eagerness of the President to name the next Chief Justice in spite of the doubts raised also fuels the doubts that people have regarding this appointment. With the entire Supreme Court ending up to be Arroyo appointees, suspicion as to the members’ independence will certainly not be easily replaced.

It is now in the hands of President Arroyo whether the Supreme Court will be spared from this cloud of suspicion especially by her administration’s critics. Her actions will determine whether the people’s confidence in the Supreme Court will be restored or eroded. While Midas, a king in Greek Mythology (and coincidentally the namesake of the High Court’s spokesperson), turned everything he touched into gold, it seems that the President has the opposite effect on those she lays her hands on. Look at the candidacy of Gibo.

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