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DE CASTRO vs.

JUDICIAL BAR COUNCIL


G. R. No. 191002, etc || March 17, 2010
Ponente: Justice Bersamin
RECIT-READY DIGEST: This is a consolidated case assailing the constitutionality of
the act of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of appointing Chief Justice Corona 7
days after the Presidential election in 2010.
Section 4 (1) and Section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution states that,
"vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from occurrence thereof," from a, "List of
nominees prepared by the Judicial Bar Council for every vacancy" but this was said to
contradict, Section 15 of Article VII which prohibits the President or the Acting
President from making appointments within two (2) months immediately before the
next Presidential elections and up to the end of his term, except temporary
appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice
public service or endanger public safety. The issue then was if Coronas appointment
was valid or not. It was held that it was. The Supreme Court said that if the framers of
the Constitution intended that the prohibition in Sec 15 Art VII applied to the
appointment of Chief Justice, then they should have expressly stated it in the
Constitution not only under Section 15 (THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT) but also under
Article VII and Section 4 (1), Article VIII (JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT). Section 15 refers
only to the appointments made in the Executive Department.

COMPREHENSIVE DIGEST:
Facts:
After the compulsory retirement of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the
position of Chief Justice was left vacant. Section 4 (1) and Section 9, Article
VIII of the Constitution states that "vacancy shall be filled within ninety days
from occurrence thereof," from a, "list of nominees prepared by the Judicial
Bar Council for every vacancy".

The JBC, in its en banc meeting of January 18, 2010, unanimously agreed to
start the process of filling up the position of Chief Justice. Conformably with its
existing practice, the JBC automatically considered for the position of Chief
Justice the five most senior of the Associate Justices of the Court, namely:
Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio; Associate Justice Renato C. Corona;
Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales; Associate Justice Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr.; and Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura. The last two
immediately declined.

It should be noted that the consolidated cases with the different intervenors
wanted different reliefs. Petitioner Estelito M. Mendoza, a former Solicitor
General, was seeking a ruling from the Court for the guidance of the JBC on
whether Section 15, Article VII applies to appointments to the Judiciary.
Others, like the Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA) wanted the
JBC to submit its list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice to be vacated
by Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement on May 17, 2010 contending that
the JBC started the process too early. The petition discussed at length in the
case was that of petitioners Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr. and Roland B. Inting,

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Governors for Southern Luzon and
Eastern Visayas, respectively, who wanted to enjoin and restrain the JBC from
submitting a list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice to the President
for appointment during the period provided for in Section 15, Article VII.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contends that the incumbent
President may appoint the next Chief Justice since the Constitutional provision
did not apply to the Supreme Court. If the framers of the Constitution intended
the prohibition to apply in the Supreme Court then it should have expressly
stated it in the Constitution.

Issue:
Whether the incumbent President can appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno
upon his retirement? YES.
Held:
The following constitutional provisions are put in question:
Section 15, Article VII (Executive Department): 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.
Section 4 (1), Article VIII (Judicial Department): (1). The Supreme Court shall be
composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in
its discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled
within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.
Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article
VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they would have easily and
surely written the prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally
applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article VIII itself,
most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such specification was not done only
reveals that the prohibition against the President or Acting President making
appointments within two months before the next presidential elections and up to the
end of the Presidents or Acting Presidents term does not refer to the Members of the
Supreme Court.
OTHER PROVISIONS SURROUNDING SEC 15 OF ARTICLE VII
Section 14, Section 15, and Section 16 are obviously of the same character
consistent with the rule that every part of the statute must be interpreted with
reference to the context, i.e. that every part must be considered together with the
other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. Both
Section 14 and 16 explicitly refer to the Executive Department only. It is absurd to
assume that the framers deliberately situated Section 15 between Section 14 and
Section 16, if they intended Section 15 to cover all kinds of presidential
appointments. If that was their intention in respect of appointments to the Judiciary,
the framers, if only to be clear, would have easily and surely inserted a similar
prohibition in Article VIII, most likely within Section 4 (1) thereof.