SC nominee says Erap not eligible for reelection

Purple Romero, Newsbreak

Posted at Sep 28 2009 05:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2009 03:57 AM

MANILA - A nominee to the Supreme Court (SC) believes that deposed President Joseph Estrada is not eligible to seek reelection, arguing the constitutional ban on former presidents is absolute.

Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Ambassador Manuel A.J. Teehankee argued before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended the president to serve only one term in office.

“The key phrase in that provision is that any President shall not be eligible for any reelection,” Teehankee said, referring to the Article 7, Section 4 in the 1987 Constitution, which says: “The President shall not be eligible for any reelection.”

Teehankee was interviewed on Monday by the JBC, the body that vets candidates to positions in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman and the Deputy Ombudsmen.

He was the last to be publicly interviewed by the JBC for the post soon to be vacated by retiring Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, the only remaining appointee of Estrada in the Tribunal.

Submit after PGMA steps down

Teehankee, a former undersecretary of the Department of Justice, also advised the JBC to submit its list of nominees to the Chief Justice post only after President Arroyo steps down in office.

His answer was in reply to a question raised by regular JBC member Regino Hermosisima whether President should appoint the next Chief Justice or it should be left to the next President.

Chief Justice Reynato Puno is set to retire May 17 next year

Article VII, Section 15 of the Constitution states: “Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

However, the Constitution also mandates that vacancy in the Tribunal should be filled up within 90 days after the vacancy has been created.

Hermosisima asked Teehankee how the two provisions could be reconciled considering that it may conflict with each other—one, the constitutional ban on appointments for outgoing presidents, and the other, the constitutional requirement should be filled up within 90 days.

Teehankee said the JBC could submit its short-list between July 17, 2010 and Aug 17, 2010, which is still within the 90-day period. The period, he noted, no longer covers the constitutional ban on last-minute appointments.