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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Supreme Court Power Play

The President made a strategic choice in appointing Justice Artemio Panganiban as Chief Justice, not so much because he is hardworking (undoubtedly) but to put a leash on Justice Reynato Puno.

In the order of hierarchy, Justice Puno is the most senior justice in the Supreme Court after Chief Justice Davide. Logically and by tradition, he should have been the Chief Justice. Had he been appointed, he would have been chief justice until 2010. But since Justice Panganiban has only 11 months or so before retirment and considering that he played a yeoman's role in installing GMA as president, the latter rewarded him the coveted post.

And in so doing, she is obliquely warning Justice Puno to tow the government line, support the government's policies on CPR, E. O. 464 , etc. or else, she may install an outsider like Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who wants to infect us with her IlongChigan (Ilonggo-Michigan) form of legalese and wisdom.

And so, it is entirely possible that Justice Puno will remain beholden to the president until such time that he is appointed as Chief Justice. Or he may just retire out of amor propio. But that would be a foolish move. Claudio Teehankee had the ignominous experience of having been bypassed twice by lesser lights. Yet, he persevered. Justice Puno's retiring at this point serves no cogent purpose other than to assuage his pride. He should march on as a good and faithful servant of the law.

But knowing his independent streak even amongst his High Court brethren, he may just decide to forego the headship of the Supreme Court, fiscalize and perform the role of another great justice who never became Chief - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. And do what is right and just though the heavens fall.


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