Press Release
October 22, 2006

New Supreme Court Justices to be Appointed December 7, 2006

Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan called on the nominees to be the next Chief Justice, to consider inhibiting themselves, from deciding on whether the 19-year old Constitution will be changed via the people's initiative.

The people's initiative which is being pushed by local officials and pro-amendment groups such as Sigaw ng Bayan, has called on the Supreme Court Justices to "change the course of history" by rewarding its imprimatur on the Charter Change case. Pangilinan says that with the high tribunal deciding on the petition next week, it would serve the country's interest for the nominees to the plum post to consider the option of inhibiting themselves. The incumbent Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban admitted recently receiving some pressure from parties pushing for Charter Change.

Senator Kiko reiterates this call to consider inhibition, "in the light of the so-called pressure being brought to bear on the Supreme Court Justices, it would do well for the Supreme Court, as an institution, if the incumbent Supreme Court Justices aspiring for the post of Chief Justice, inhibit themselves from participating in the Charter Change Petition, now pending before it."

"By considering inhibiting themselves from the case, the Court would be spared from the awkward situation wherein the appointment of the new Chief Justice would be perceived as a reward for taking a stand in favor of Malacañang , whether or not the petition is granted. If any of the aspiring justices who may have voted in favor of Malacañang 's position is appointed Chief Justice come December 7, it may have an adverse effect on the credibility of the Supreme Court. Inhibition is an available option that should be seriously considered by those who are interested in the post of SC Chief Justice," Senator Kiko furthered.

Senator Kiko reiterates this call to consider inhibition amidst clamor for increased transparency in the selection of the next chief justice, and worries over a close call vote over the delicate People's Initiative case.

"The scale as it is, is already weighed down in favor of a People's Initiative, in spite of the doubtful legality on two grounds. The intent of the framers of the Constitution was for amendments by initiative to be made available to every Filipino citizen and people's organizations, not an organization of government officials who have utilized government funds to revise the Constitution. The initiative was made by the framers to amend, not to revise the Constitution. The proposal to amend Articles 6, 7 and 9, is tantamount to a revision, and is therefore contrary to the Constitution."

" I trust that the Supreme Court Justices shall return to their sworn duty to uphold and defend the Constitution, and heed the call of their conscience, to not support such a blatant disregard of our Rule of Law and democratic process, " Senator Kiko ended.

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