Harsh words were recently exchanged between between the Philippine Supreme Court and Malacanang over the Aquino administration’s plan to “reduce” the judiciary’s budget (see my most recent post on the controversy here). The Philippine Judges Association has come out yesterday to express their support for Chief Justice Corona. For his part, the chief justice said, “There is no intense quarrel happening. I’m just setting things straight.” Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone has urged both parties to convene the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELACC) in order to work through their differences. It’s not yet clear whether most of this debate is hollow posturing or whether the animosity could actually affect the Court’s work. Stay tuned…
Category Archives: Aquino
According to PhilStar, in a 10-5 vote the Philippine Supreme Court has struck down the Aquino administration’s Executive Order No. 1. This act would have established a Truth Commission that would have investigated the alleged wrongdoings of former president Arroyo. The court claimed that only Congress has the authority to establish new government bodies. Yet, skeptics are already pointing out that all of the members in the majority were appointed by Arroyo. Of course, four of the dissenters were also appointed by Arroyo (Justice Sereno is Aquino’s only appointee), but those four had already developed a reputation for independence. This issue arises to some extent in U.S. law, although usually in the form of prohibiting excessive delegation from Congress to the executive. When I have a bit more time on my hands, I’ll try to read the full opinion and provide more thoughts.
Earlier this year, when President Arroyo insisted on appointing the new Supreme Court Chief Justice, critics accused her of seeking to stack the judiciary to ensure it would uphold her policies and shield her from accountability. So far, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. The Supreme Court seems intent on accommodating the new Aquino administration and hasn’t stuck its neck out for Arroyo. According to reports from Manila, it seems like the Supreme Court will not rule Aquino’s Executive Order No. 2 unconstitutional. E.O. No. 2 would sack all of Arroyo’s midnight appointees. We’ll see what happens, but for now the much-anticipated showdown between Aquino and the justices looks a ways off.
President Aquino was sworn in today. Notably, the justice conducting the oath of office and inaugural ceremonies was not Chief Justice Corona, but rather Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales (see right – image from PhilStar). This decision stems partly from Aquino’s strident opposition of former president Arroyo’s “midnight appointment” of the new chief justice (see here for a refresher). Aquino’s mother, Cory, was also sworn in by an associate justice, one who had taken a strong anti-Marcos stand. It’s still not clear how much of an impact this move will actually have on relations between the executive and judiciary, but it should be fascinating to watch over the coming months.
Followers of Rule by Hukum may remember that Philippine president-elect Aquino promised to prosecute Arroyo for her misdeeds. According to a recent consultant report (unfortunately, not available for free but cited in an Asia Times article), Aquino’s promise might drain political capital that might otherwise have gone towards economic reform. It is particularly noteworthy that his party won just 45 seats in the House of Representatives, much less than the 107 controlled by Arroyo’s Lakas-KAMPI-CMD coalition. We’ll stay tuned on how aggressively Aquino’s administration actually pursues corruption charges. There is precedent for such an action – Arroyo’s prosecution of (and eventual amnesty for) former president Estrada.