Philippine President swears in new chief justice

Outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo swore in a new chief justice on Monday.

Last Updated: May 17, 2010, 20:26 PM IST

Manila: Outgoing Philippine President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo swore in a new chief justice on Monday whose
appointment has been questioned by her apparent successor,
sparking fears of a constitutional crisis.

Opposition Sen Benigno Aquino III, who is set to become
the president-elect in an almost-complete vote count of May 10
elections, has vowed not to take his oath of office before
newly-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who
once served as Arroyo`s chief of staff and spokesman.

Aquino has said he preferred to take his oath before a
village leader in Tarlac, his northern home province, when
Arroyo`s term ends on June 3.

The constitution does not say the oath must be taken
before the chief justice and any official can administer it.

Arroyo`s action has brought the Supreme Court on a
possible collision course with the incoming administration,
said Aquino`s political adviser Florencio Abad.

"She`s really pushing us to the brink of a crisis here,"
Abad said to a news agency.

Arroyo, who ran successfully for a seat in House of
Representatives, may have been appointing friendly justices to
fend off possible legal action that Aquino has said his new
administration would initiate against her, Abad said.

Aquino has said that he planned to form a commission to
investigate allegations of massive corruption and vote-rigging
involving Arroyo, who faced several failed opposition
impeachment bids, coup attempts and political unrest during
her turbulent nine years in office.

In a news conference, Corona said his appointment was
legal and rejected perceptions that he will be biased in
favour of Arroyo. "Watch me," Corona said. "Don`t judge me
now."

Asked if he will inhibit himself from any future case
involving Arroyo, Corona refused to reply. Aquino`s rejection
of his appointment may or may not lead to a crisis, he said.

PTI