Disregarding the explicit provisions in the Constitution, the discussions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and existing jurisprudence, the Supreme Court reversed itself and ruled, without benefit of a public hearing, that the President can appoint the Supreme Court Chief Justice during the period that the Constitution banned any midnight appointments.
Of the nine justices who voted in favor of President Arroyo appointing the next Chief Justice, five interpreted the Constitution as exempting the entire judiciary from the ban and four made a special case to exempt only the high court.
The five justices who took the position that President Arroyo could appoint all vacancies in the entire judiciary until June 30 were Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin (ponente), Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr. and Jose Perez.
Those who also concurred but took the position that Ms Arroyo could appoint only to vacancies in the high court during the election ban but said the lower courts remained subject to the ban were Associate Justices Arturo Brion (who wrote a separate opinion), Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Mendoza.
It is well to remember their names for their historical role in politicizing the institution and rendering inutile its moral standing with the people. The decision seems to give the impression of a hurriedly-done, half-baked concoction. The inescapable conclusion is that the majority are responding to pressures, principally coming from Malacañang.
It also validates the observation that these people are a (witting or unwitting?) party to whatever scheme that is unfolding in relation to the present elections. This is a moment of utmost vigilance.