The President has the moral authority, even the moral duty, to denounce the erosion of the constitutional morality, according to former chief justice Vincent de Gaetano.
“I have very little patience with those who say that the president has very little power under the Constitution,” Dr de Gaetano says in an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta.
On Friday, President George Vella said a “gang of people” had brought shame on the country, which has been shocked with revelations linked to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Dr de Gaetano says: “Apart from the fact that certain powers and duties are necessarily implied – like the power to remove a prime minister, or, indeed, any minister, when their position becomes, for any valid reason, untenable – the president certainly has the moral authority, and I would say the moral duty, to stand up and denounce whatever could be eroding the ‘constitutional morality’ of the country or undermining its institutions.”
In his view, what Malta is experiencing is an ‘institutional’ crisis as the problem also affects organs and actors not specifically emanating from the Constitution, like the police, political parties and the many regulatory bodies and public authorities and entities set up.
On political responsibilities, Dr de Gaetano says that political responsibility means being in office to work for the common good and not for one’s own personal profit.
“It also implies a standard of moral behaviour. Consequently, when a politician makes a serious error of judgment that impacts on that common good or on the standard or moral behaviour expected of him, even if what has been done is not illegal, s/he should resign,” the retired judge says.