Looks like there’s going to be a second impeachment trial coming soon to the Philippine Senate. The House voted 38-10 that there is probable cause to impeach Justice del Castillo, infamous for allegedly plagiarizing a Yale Law Review article. Some might argue this impeachment is based on stronger grounds than the politicized impeachment of Chief Justice Corona. However, it’s also quite convenient for the Aquino administration to not one but two additional Supreme Court appointments if both impeachment cases reach conviction. Indeed, as it currently stands, only Roberto Abad’s term will expire before the end of Aquino’s presidential term, meaning that barring any deaths or unforeseen retirements Aquino would otherwise only have had opportunity to appoint one more justice.* By the looks of it, Aquino could leave the presidency with 6 of his justices on the bench, plus sympathetic justices like Carpio.
* Martin Villarama’s term ends in April 2016, during the election season. This whole impeachment saga against Corona started when President Arroyo appointed Corona during the 2010 election season, which Aquino argued violated the ban on midnight appointments. Villarama’s retirement should be an interested test of if Aquino accepts the midnight appointment ban when it constrains his presidency – or alternatively, if he suddenly decides that the Supreme Court made the right call in de Castro v. JBC.