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Lawyer blasts opposition demanding Duterte to explain his choice of Bersamin: 'DESPERATE to be RELEVANT'.

Composite photo of former president Noynoy Aquino with Maria Lourdes Sereno and new Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin / from Google (ctto)

Senatorial candidate from the Opposisyon Koalisyon (OK) Florin Hilbay on Wednesday asked the president why he did not follow through his promise to appoint a Supreme Court Chief Justice based on seniority.

'Duterte did not follow his own rule'

Hilbay, a former solicitor general that if Duterte’s own rule have been followed, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who likewise vied for the vacant position, should have been appointed as the next head magistrate instead of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin.

“Kailangan nating tandaan ang ipinangako ng presidente na ia-appoint ‘yong pinaka-senior na mahistrado. I suppose kailangan ding tanungin si presidente kung bakit hindi niya sinusunod ‘yong kanyang sinabi,” Hilbay said during a press conference in Quezon City.


Meanwhile, a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, San Beda Alabang lawyer Bruce Rivera in one of his Facebook post said that senators from the opposition demanding Duterte to explain his choice of Bersamin as chief justice were only DESPERATE TO BE RELEVANT.

Rivera recalled that during former president Noynoy Aquino’s time, no one questioned him or made him explain why he chose the unqualified Maria Lourdes Sereno for the highest magistrate position.

“Hindi pa nga Senador pero ganyan na kayo mag-isip. Know your place and know what you can or cannot demand. And sadly, you cannot demand PRD to explain his choice in the same way nobody demanded PNoy to explain when he chose someone who had scored dangerously high in the psychiatric evaluation test.” Rivera wrote

He also further explained that the president’s choice to appoint Bersamin the next CJ is valid without a doubt.

Read Atty. Bruce Rivera’s full post below:


Now, this is where your PR has failed you. Remember in the not so distant past, your partymate, BS Aquino appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice who was one of the most junior and had inferior credentials compared to the rest of the members of the highest court.

And guess what, no one made PNoy explain then. No one had the arrogance to make someone explain exercising a constitutional power. And as a running senatorial candidate, you should know that when a sitting President exercises his appointing power, it is a discretionary power and hence, not a justiciable question. Sadly, how can we even consider voting for someone who does not know his or her place in the political scheme of things.

Hindi pa nga Senador pero ganyan na kayo mag-isip. Know your place and know what you can or cannot demand. And sadly, you cannot demand PRD to explain his choice in the same way nobody demanded PNoy to explain when he chose someone who had scored dangerously high in the psychiatric evaluation test.

Under Civil Service laws, the seniority rule or the "qualified next-in-line" rule requires the appointing authority to explain if the one appointed is not the qualified next-in-line. However, it does not invalidate the appointment because for as long as the person appointed is also qualified, the Civil Service cannot question it.*

More importantly, the appointment of CJ Bersamin is not just an ordinary appointment. The JBC shortlisted the names and the President chose from the names. In fact, the three most senior Associate Justices (Bersamin, Peralta and Carpio) are automatically included. Also noteworthy, during PNoys time, he returned the shortlist because it was too short, meaning, there was a name that was not included, the one he intends to appoint. PRD never returned the shortlist. So, what is there to explain?

Like everyone, I secretly wished for Justice Carpio to be chosen because I could only imagine how your feeble political minds would react. And honestly, it would not really matter who becomes CJ because the five names on the list are able and qualified to the post. Remember, a Chief Justice does not get an extra vote in the Supreme Court. His job is mostly administrative by nature because he effectively leads the judicial branch of government. As such, his past decisions on certain matters should not even be an issue because in the grander scheme of things, it is one vote out of the fifteen who voted for a decision. In short, CJ Bersamin cannot be blamed for the Marcos burial or the Enrile bail or the GMA release. It was collegial decision which was based on a majority rule.*

And in his defense, CJ Bersamin served the longest in the judiciary. Yes, Justice Carpio was appointed first to the SC but CJ Bersamin served the longest in the judicial branch. The fact that Justice Carpio was the one who administered the oath as CJ shows the mutual respect towards each other. They are both great men.

The problem with our opposition today can be summed up in three words: DESPERATE TO BE RELEVANT. Sorry, four words but who is counting. In a present political system where we have a President who is trying his best to make things happen, it is difficult to criticize him achievement wise. Pasalamat kayo na matabil ang dila ni PRD kaya may dahilan kayong batikusin siya on his rhetorics. But on his service and results, it is few and far between even his naps become an issue.

The point I am driving at is this: you are politicizing the selection of CJ Bersamin when there is no reason to make it political. What the LP Senatoriables have is personal against PRD. I am even saddened that Justice Carpio is placed in the middle of this issue because clearly the opposition is using him for political noise.

PRD chose Bersamin for CJ. Deal with it like grown men. It is within his constitutional power to appoint him. And as would be senators, not in your power to question if you really know your Constitution (yes, the one we want to change and most of you cling desperately to hold on to).


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