A check with the Supreme Court records showed that Duterte may promote four more justices to the top judicial posts – at the most – before he steps down in June 2022, after earlier appointing retired chief justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.
Miguel de Guzman
‘Duterte may appoint up to 5 chief justices’
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte may be able to appoint five chief justices during his six-year term in office.

Sources in the administration revealed that the President intends to promote justices to the chief justice position upon their retirement as he respects the seniority tradition in the judiciary.

A check with the Supreme Court records showed that Duterte may promote four more justices to the top judicial posts – at the most – before he steps down in June 2022, after earlier appointing retired chief justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.

Should the Chief Executive follow the seniority tradition, he is expected to next appoint Senior Associate Justice and now acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, who will have about one year in the post before retiring in October next year.

The next most senior magistrate in line is Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who will have two years before retiring in March 2022 – if appointed chief justice.

The two next justices in line – Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Mariano del Castillo – will both retire next year during Carpio’s possible term as chief justice.

Before stepping down, Duterte may still appoint two more chief justices in the last few months of his term. Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe will be next in line and would be retiring in May 2022, followed by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who will retire in December 2032.

While the vacancy will occur during election period, the President may appoint a chief justice during the period of appointment ban due to the SC ruling in 2010 that exempted posts in the SC from the appointment ban during election period.   

If Ma. Lourdes Sereno was not ousted as chief justice earlier this year, she would have stayed in the top judicial post until 2030 or 18 years since she was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

The Judicial and Bar Council is currently screening nominees for the chief justice post after De Castro’s retirement on Oct. 10.

All four other senior SC justices – Carpio, Peralta, Bersamin and Bernabe – have accepted their automatic nomination for chief justice.

A junior magistrate, Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. also accepted his nomination by retired Sandiganbayan justice Raoul Victorino for the post – bringing to five the number of candidates for chief justice as of yesterday. Victorino nominated all 13 incumbent justices of SC.

The JBC, seven-member council tasked to vet nominees in judicial posts, earlier extended the Oct. 15 deadline for nominations for the chief justice post to Oct.26. 

Apart from five chief justices, Duterte is also expected to appoint over 12 members of the High Court during his six-year term. He already appointed six justices so far - now Ombudsman Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Jose Reyes Jr. and Ramon Paul Hernando.  

RODRIGO DUTERTE TERESITA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
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