Marcos' SC, CHR appointees? Spox says up to Duterte team

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Marcos' SC, CHR appointees? Spox says up to Duterte team
This file photo taken April 13, 2022 shows the Supreme Court of the Philippines in Manila.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — Will Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., presumptive president-elect, get to designate his first associate justice at the Supreme Court, where legal challenges against his bid are expected to arrive, in his first two months in office?

Everything is still up in the air, and would still depend on the transition team of the Office of the President of the current chief executive Rodrigo Duterte.

“We have not spoken to the present dispensation yet although we’ve heard that there is already a transition [team] formed by the [OP] but everything hinge on actual proclamation,” Marcos’ spokesperson, Vic Rodriguez, answered when asked if the SC appointment had been discussed by the teams.

Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe is set to step down on May 14, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. 

Her retirement creates a vacancy at the SC that is expected to tackle appeals on the legal challenges against Marcos’ candidacy, including disqualification cases and a plea to cancel his Certificate of Candidacy.

Other high-profile cases pending before the Supreme Court are the petition against Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

Under the Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council, Judiciary vacancies shall be filled within 90 days from submission of the shortlist to the Office of the President.

The shortlist for Bernabe’s replacement was submitted to Duterte on April 12.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, ex-officio member of the JBC, explained that the counting of the 90 days starts when the vacancy is created, which is on May 14. 

This means Duterte “has 90 days within which to fill the vacancy; that's well beyond the end of his term on 30 June 2022.” 

“So [Duterte] may still exercise his prerogative to appoint the next Associate Justice before June 30, or leave it to the incoming president to make the appointment after June 30,” he added.

But Guevarra said he is not privy to plans of agreement regarding the appointment of the next SC justice.

What about the Commission on Human Rights?

Also emptied out before the transition into the Marcos administration is the Commission of Human Rights that faced challenges and have been threatened and attacked in the several years of the Duterte administration.

Only four of the Commissioners saw the end of their term on May 5, with their chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon untimely passing away in 2021.

Rodriguez still cannot say whether it will Duterte or Marcos who will fill up the vacancies at the CHR.

“It all depends… Remember the term of president-elect Bongbong and VP-elect Sara will conmmence on afternoon of June 30 so anything that will happen now and before noon June 30, it is still [President Duterte] or President Duterte’s administration and we will yield to whatever action he or his cabinet or his governance will take,” he added.


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