Malacañang is rushing new appointments in the judiciary to avoid the so-called “midnight appointments.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd had already signed about 100 hundred appointments, including those of new judges along with 321 prosecutors nationwide.
The election ban on appointments will be on March 10, Thursday, in view of an existing provision of the 1987 Constitution, which bars the President from making appointments two months from Election Day.
A transmittal letter sent to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., dated March 8, 2016, stated that Aquino has appointed new judges.
“I am pleased to transmit herewith the appointment letters of the following signed by His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd,” the letter, signed by Ochoa, read.
For the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), appointed were 11 judges for Regional Trial Courts led by Mandaluyong RTC Judge Juliet Manalo-San Gaspar and Quezon City RTC Judge Juris Dilinila-Callanta.
For the Mandaluyong RTC, appointed Judges were J. Ermin Ernest Louie Miguel, Restituto Mangalindan Jr. Jaime Fortunato Caringal and Anthony Fama.
For the Camanava (the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area, the new RTC Judges are Rosalia Hipolito Bunagan of Caloocan City and Judge Orven Kuan Ontalan of Valenzuela.
For Malabon, the new judges are Rhoda Magdalene Opile-Osinada, Rosario Ines-Pinzon and Ma. Antonia Largoza-Cantero.
For the Department of Justice (DOJ), the President appointed Cesar Calubag as the chief prosecutor of Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Other newly appointed and promoted prosecutors were State Prosecutors III Arnold Magpantay and Clarissa Kuong and Prosecutors II Jolo Valencia Jr., Eve Eunice Keyser and Monica Liwag.
Aquino had fought against the so-called midnight appointments by protesting the appointment of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Renato Corona as Chief Justice that fell within the election period.
But the SC en banc, with a vote of 9-1-2-3 on March 17, 2010, ruled that the High Court is not covered by the election ban.
Five of the justices ruled that Arroyo can make the appointments in the judiciary particularly in the SC.
The ruling was led by its ponente Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, along with Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama and Jose Perez.
Four justices led by Arturo Brion ruled that the prohibition against midnight appointments covers the SC alone.
This was concurred in by Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Catral Mendoza.
But Aquino insisted then that Corona was covered by the “midnight appointments.”
He then issued Executive Order 2 banning such appointments.