His Excellency BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
On the Issuance of a Status Quo Ante Order Regarding Executive Order No. 2
by the Supreme Court
[October 14, 2010]
Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a Status Quo Ante Order granting the motion of Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman. She was one of four people who filed petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 2, but the Supreme Court only acted on Lucman.
We issued Executive Order No. 2 recalling, withdrawing, or revoking midnight appointments, because the previous administration had exceeded and abused the limits of its powers to appoint.
We had to issue EO2 because there were people who accepted illegal appointments. By knowingly accepting illegal appointments, they became part of a conspiracy to impede and to thwart, our people’s clamor for a return to good governance.
We put in their place people who shared our aims. Our appointees allowed us to discover questionable deals, which we immediately stopped. For instance, our appointees uncovered close to a billion pesos worth of anomalous contracts that had been entered into during the past administration. We have cancelled those contracts and saved the government hundreds of millions of pesos.
While this Status Quo Ante Order applies only to one of four petitioners, let me be clear about its far-reaching consequences. By focusing on the minutiae of the case, the Supreme Court effectively turned back the clock. It dishonors the decency of those who had the courtesy to resign.
The potential result of this will be chaos and paralysis in the Executive Branch of government, as the legitimacy of officials appointed to replace those already removed will be cast in doubt.
This order will embolden hundreds of similarly situated appointees of the past administration who had already been replaced, resigned, or recalled, to demand that they be reinstated or retained. And having returned to their previous posts, what can we expect from people who accepted illegal appointments to begin with?
This order has the potential to derail, or even nullify, our efforts to uncover and reverse midnight deals; streamline the bureaucracy; and implement reforms to bring back good governance. It will enable those who had participated in midnight deals to at the very least, cover their tracks, if not complete acts inimical to the public interest.
Going beyond the Executive Branch, this order comes shortly after the Supreme Court issued a similar Status Quo Ante Order preventing the House of Representatives from acting on the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. The Members of the House protested what they believed was an intrusion into their own constitutional powers.
We kept our silence when the Supreme Court prevented the House from continuing with its impeachment proceedings.
That recent action of the Supreme Court tests the limits of its constitutional authority, and this latest order could precipitate a clash with another separate, co-equal branch of government.
Our democracy was built on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers; hence, there are three branches of government. We therefore appeal, as a co-equal branch of government, for the Supreme Court to consider the implications of its order.
This order also comes at a time when we had already taken significant steps forward, and public confidence in our institutions is being restored. We have saved the Filipino people billions of pesos by rescinding contracts that have been uncovered after the midnight appointees have been removed from office. The economy is on an upturn. This order can set back all of these achievements.
I call upon the Supreme Court to exercise judicial prudence at a time when the Filipino people deserve confidence-building measures from all our institutions rather than actions that might diminish this confidence.
Nakikiusap kami sa Korte Suprema na lawakan ang kanilang pananaw, at ipamalas ang pagtataguyod ng interes ng kalahatan.