Search for next SC chief starts; 5 most senior justices automatically nominated for top post
The five most senior justices of the Supreme Court were automatically nominated to the position of the chief justice as the screening body on Monday opened the application and nomination period for the successor of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) gave the aspirants until July 26 to submit their applications and supporting documents, including their statements of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The seven-member JBC opened the application a week after the high court upheld last June 19 its 8-6 vote to remove Sereno through a quo warranto petition for failing to submit the mandatory SALNs.
The ruling was questioned by lawyers and legal groups who insisted that the Constitution provided that members of the Supreme Court can only be removed from office through impeachment.
The five most senior justices — Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr. Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Mariano Del Castillo — were also given until July 26 to formally accept their nomination.
Velasco, however. may no longer qualify since the JBC has already submitted to Malacanang the shortlist of his probable replacement when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Aug. 8.
Last week, Carpio announced that he will decline the nomination since he did not want to benefit from Sereno’s ouster through a quo warranto case, which he opposed.
De Castro will retire in October this year while Bersamin and Del Castillo will retire in October and July 2019, respectively. Peralta will reach mandatory retirement in March 2022.
Under the Constitution, President Duterte has until Sept. 16, or 90 days from the vacancy of the post, to name a new Chief Justice.
However, he would pick first Velasco’s replacement from the eight candidates endorsed by the JBC.
Three nominees, namely Court of Appeals Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr., Amy Lazaro-Javier and Ramon Garcia, received the nod of all seven JBC members.
Four others, namely Court Administrator Midas Marquez and Court of Appeals Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang and Ramon Hernando, received six votes.
Former Ateneo law school dean Cesar Villanueva received five votes.
Velasco’s replacement would be Duterte’s fifth appointee to the tribunal. /ee
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