Constitutionalist Fr. Joaqiun Bernas said on dzBB that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cannot appoint the next chief justice without violating the Constitution. Mrs. Arroyo cannot make any appointments within 60 days before her term expires on June 30 this year.
The current Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno will be leaving the position on May 17, thus making the position available. Fr. Bernas said that the next president will have enough time to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno. But he also points out that the Constitution allow only 90 days of vacancy and the next president should filed within that period.
Fr. Bernas added that any of the associate justice can take over the vacany in acting position.
However, Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) can only send the list of successor on or after May 17 and it would be up to the next president’s decision.
But Pres. Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal argued that the constitution is not absolute on its prohibition to appoint any officials within two months.