Associate Justice Marvic Leonen declined his automatic nomination to the chief justice post. He said in a statement last August 19: “I will be able to do what I do best for our people in my current position at this time."
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Leonen: Next chief justice should have 'consultative' personality
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 11, 2019 - 11:58am

MANILA, Philippines — Serving as the chief justice requires “a lot of listening,” and the next head of the judiciary should be a “consultative” one, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said Friday.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin is set to step down from the Supreme Court on October 18 as he reaches the mandatory age of retirement.

As the Judicial and Bar Council deliberates Friday on who will next lead the Judiciary, Leonen noted that the chief justice should be “consultative” as the post entails listening among his peers and with court personnel, even of the farthest court in Tawi-Tawi.

In an interview with CNN’s “The Source,” Leonen said that the next chief justice “has to take advantage of all the competencies of all the 14 other justices,” and it is a task not meant to be carried alone.

Leonen also said that the head of the judiciary should also continue with the e-courts—a bid to make our courts more efficient—and look after the integrity and competence of the members of the bar, from lawyers to judges and justices.

He added: “The intellectual leadership shows not only in what he or she writes, the intellectual leadership shows in how he or she is able to bring ideas together for he or her to step back a little from his or her own position and be humble a little and allow the others to show where they are and then come out with a solution.”

“That requires a lot of listening,” Leonen pointed out.

Bersamin said last week that in choosing the next chief justice, the chosen candidate should have high emotional quotient.

He added it was already a given that the four aspirants as well as the other magistrates in the high court have high intelligence quotients or IQ, otherwise they would not have earned the respect of their colleagues.

RELATED: Who's Who: The four vying to be the next chief justice

Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estele Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr. and Jose Reyes Jr. faced the Judicial and Bar Council for a public interview on October 2.

Bersamin said: “I presume all of these four have IQ but maybe if I would be asked by the president whom he should choose, I would say choose the one who you believe has more EQ than the others. This is also a position of leadership among equals — primus inter pares (first among equals) — so it is very important here, a large part is the EQ."

Seniority in court

Leonen, who has been serving the SC for seven years now, said that he also realized the importance of seniority in leading the tribunal.

He explained that it is significant for the chief justice to have experience in heading a committee and a division as he or she would gain relations with colleagues and members of the lower court.

“Seniority also comes in understanding how the SC works, its traditions and why the traditions are there,” Leonen added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier defended his choice of chief justice by citing "seniority" as a qualification.

RELATED: De Castro appointed CJ due to seniority, Palace stresses

By tradition, the top five most senior justices of the SC receive an automatic nomination to the top judge post.

Leonen declined his nomination and said that there are more qualified applicants to the post than him.

In his latest interview, he said he knows of the competencies of the four applicants and while he said he is not the position to favor, he “can imagine a court under Peralta and... Bernabe.”

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