A week after the Supreme Court ruling on the quo warranto petition reached finality, the Judicial and Bar Council announced the opening of the application for the chief justice post. The deadline for filing and completing the requirements is on July 26.
The STAR/file
Leonen: No plan to apply for chief justice post
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - July 5, 2018 - 12:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Associate Justice Marvic Leonen does not have any plan to make a bid to become a chief justice.

Speaking to ANC’s Headstart on Thursday, Leonen said that he does not aspire to be the head of judiciary as it “requires some sort of a capacity or an attitude that right now I cannot imagine myself doing.”

He said that a good chief justice, in his point of view, “is the number of times that she or he gets a unanimous opinion, especially in controversial cases.”

The justice, in a rare live interview, said that as head of the tribunal, the chief justice is tasked to be a “negotiator” to “find the middle ground.”

“You have to have gravitas to be able to bring people to listen to each other and then, later on, come out with the decision,” Leonen said.

The justice said that right now, he is “more concerned about convincing people about the standpoint that I am presenting.”

A week after the SC ruling on the quo warranto petition reached finality, the Judicial and Bar Council, on June 25, announced the opening of the application for the chief justice post. The deadline for filing and completing the requirements is on July 26.

The landmark ruling that granted the government’s legal challenge to Maria Lourdes Sereno’s appointment as chief justice in 2012, resulted in Sereno’s ouster.


Five of the most senior justices in the SC receive automatic nomination for the post. They, however, need to submit their written acceptance of the nomination before they are considered a candidate to the chief justice post.

The five are Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.

Leonen, who entered the high court with an academic and public interest background, said he has learned, upon coming to the SC, that seniority is important as it has become “a marker of experience.”

In the SC, seniority among its members is measured through their years of experience. Leonen is currently the eighth most senior justice in the 14-member court.

“If you stay in the court longer, you become more familiar with the people that you work with including the staff, chief of offices, the judges of lower courts, the appellate courts, so seniority, I think is a marker. It is not, per se, the only requirement, but seniority as a marker of something like experience,” Leonen said.

Leonen pointed out that Carpio has been with the court “for more than a decade,” having been appointed in 2001. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and former chief justice Hilario Davide filed their nomination for Carpio despite the senior justice's remark that he would decline the nomination.

De Castro, meanwhile, is a “work horse,” according to Leonen. “She has a lot of good ideas.” Peralta, he said, is “one of the leading lights for continuous trials, speedy trial and he gets people to work together.”

Leonen said that Bersamin gets well with their colleagues at the SC, since the latter had experience of rising through the ranks of judiciary from the lower courts.

“I think all of them should accept [the nomination],” he added.

Sereno’s appointment as chief justice made ripples within the SC, as she was not part of the five senior justices who have received automatic nomination to the chief justice post, then vacated by former chief justice Renato Corona who was impeached.

Her “bypassing” of other senior justices was brought out during the height of the impeachment proceeding at the House of Representatives. Sereno claimed that De Castro once told her “I will never forgive you for accepting the chief justice-ship.”

Observers of the proceedings have also pointed out that the justices’ unprecedented appearance at the House hearing seem to confirm that there are rifts among the 15-member court.

The ousted chief justice, however, said in an earlier speech, that she remains confident that once the issues have blown over, the SC as an institution will remain strong.

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