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3 most senior justices to vie for CJ post

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
3 most senior justices to vie for CJ post
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin

MANILA, Philippines — The three most senior justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are vying for the top judicial post to be vacated by the retirement of Teresita Leonardo-de Castro next week.

Insiders told The STAR that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin will accept their automatic nomination for the chief justice post, which has been opened again by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) less than two months since the appointment of De Castro last August.

Carpio declined his nomination for the post last June out of delicadeza (sense of propriety), saying he did not want to benefit from the ouster of chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, which he opposed by dissenting from the SC’s ruling on the quo warranto case last June.

President Duterte said his appointment of De Castro was based on seniority and meritocracy, and that Carpio was not considered since “he stated publicly that he’s not going to accept.”

But this time, a source said Carpio will now accept his automatic nomination “because there is no longer (an issue of delicadeza) or legal reason to decline.”

Carpio, the most senior magistrate by date of appointment to the SC who was bypassed for the position twice in 2010 and 2012, will retire from the judiciary in October next year. If appointed chief justice, he will serve the SC as its top magistrate for one year.

Another source revealed that Peralta and Bersamin will also accept their automatic nomination.

More than their intent of meeting the constitutional requirement of having at least three nominees for the vacancy, Peralta and Bersamin are willing to lead the judiciary and bring it back to its glory days, the insider explained.

The sources said Carpio, Peralta and Bersamin will formally accept the nomination upon submission of their written conforme to the JBC by Oct. 15, the deadline for submission of nominations and applications.

Apart from the three, the two other senior magistrates – Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe – have also been nominated for the position.

“The five most senior associate justices of the (SC) are automatically nominated, subject to the submission of a written acceptance of nomination,” the JBC announced. 

With the seniority rule restored in judicial appointments, the sources said they expect Duterte to choose the next chief justice from among the senior justices.

Sources in the administration told The STAR that Duterte plans to give SC justices a chance to be promoted to the top judicial post before their retirement.

The JBC will start accepting nominations for the post today until Oct. 15.

The 1987 Constitution requires that the chief justice position be filled within 90 days from vacancy or from the finality of the SC ruling in the quo warranto proceeding against Sereno on June 19. 

The Constitution also requires the chief justice, just like the associate justices, to be a natural-born citizen, at least 40 years old, with experience as judge or in private law practice for at least 15 years and a person with proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.    

Duterte is expected to appoint over 10 members of the SC during his six-year term. He already appointed five justices so far — now Ombudsman Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo and Jose Reyes Jr. 

The President is set to appoint two more justices for the vacancies left by the appointment of Martires and the promotion of De Castro and one more after appointing another chief justice.  

ANTONIO CARPIO

DIOSDADO PERALTA

LUCAS BERSAMIN

SUPREME COURT

TERESITA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

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