“Senator Santiago is very qualified, and I’m sure that if she will be the next chief justice, she will be very fair and [special] considerations will be disallowed,” Nachura told reporters.So, is Nachura, and by implication Malacanang Palace, publicly backing Santiago? Or is this the Palace's way of selling two important ideas: (1) That the President's eventual appointment will be based solely on merit, not considerations of her own political survival; and (2) That it will be okay to again ignore the traditions of seniority in the appointment of the Chief Justice, since even Miriam is a complete outsider.
“There are no political considerations here. I don’t think Senator Santiago’s being an administration ally will be an issue. There are no politics here,” he stressed.
I believe that uppermost in the President's mind in choosing the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the growing probability of an impeachment and trial as the Opposition looks set to capture the Senate in the 2007 midterm elections. I have been saying that the mere existence in the Senate of 16 "hanging Senator Judges" -- i.e. inclined to convict GMA in a fair trial -- will remove the Damocles Sword the Palace holds over members of the Lower House and make eighty or more votes for impeachment there, not inexorably suicidal for them.
If I were GMA, Miriam Santiago would be the last person I would want to be Chief Justice and the possible presiding judge of an impeachment trial. Remember, she has made a career of accusing Fidel V. Ramos of cheating HER out of the Presidency in 1992 (which many believe was actually true). She is also the person in Santiago v. Comelec, the 1997 Supreme Court ruling that killed the Pirma people's initiative.
Moreover, as Chief Justice, Miriam might find her true calling, and actually bring Constitutional law expertise to that post. And something even more important that GMA probably cannot afford: the cold impartiality of a neutral judge!
My guess is that her best hope, if any be left, is still with the guy who wrote the fax that brought GMA to power and knows all their secrets. Not Miriam the Unpredictable.