President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can appoint the next chief justice, the Supreme Court said in a decision Wednesday, amid legal questions on whether the president can pick Justice Reynato Puno’s successor within a period of two months before her term ends.
In a special meeting, nine justices—Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Arturo Brion, Jose Mendoza, Mariano del Castillo, and Diosdado Peralta—voted in favor of Mrs. Arroyo’s appointment of the next chief justice.
Only Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales gave a vote of dissent, while magistrates Eduardo Nachura and Presbitero Velasco Jr. said the case was premature.
Puno, Antonio Carpio, and Renato Corona inhibited themselves from voting. Carpio—the most senior magistrate—and Corona are the strongest contenders for the top judicial post.