Carpio won’t succeed De Castro–Duterte
President Duterte has discounted the possibility that Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the most senior magistrate in the Supreme Court, may succeed incoming Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro after she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Oct. 8.
Mr. Duterte said Carpio himself had declared that he was not interested in the chief magistrate’s post.
“He stated publicly that he is not going to accept. So why force a person to accept a task that he does not want. This is a free country,” the President said.
Carpio did not apply for the vacancy at the top post of the judiciary left by the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno because he did not want to benefit from her removal.
Mr. Duterte also told reporters at Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig, where he led the National Heroes’ Day celebration on Monday, that “political colors” were not a factor in his choice of De Castro as Sereno’s successor.
Reward for support
He made the statement amid persistent claims by opposition lawmakers that De Castro was rewarded for supporting Sereno’s ouster from the Supreme Court in May.
“In the civil service or military, it’s seniority. And it would be the same for all justices, unless they refuse, or they opt to retire. It’s like a train. Whoever comes first will be promoted first, and that’s the same for everybody,” he said.
“It’s like that even in the military, in the civil service. There [are] no political colors included. It’s not allowed, so we have the merit system,” he added.
Mr. Duterte had openly called for Sereno’s impeachment by his allies in the House of Representatives for asserting the judiciary’s authority over judges he had linked to illegal drugs.
De Castro was among the eight justices who voted to oust Sereno through a quo warranto suit filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
An impeachment complaint was filed last week against De Castro and six other magistrates for alleged violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust over Sereno’s ouster.
Very brief term
De Castro’s term will be very brief, as she is set to retire on Oct. 8, when she turns 70. She will take her oath before Mr. Duterte on Friday, according to Presidential Assistant Christopher “Bong” Go.
A former associate justice at the Sandiganbayan, De Castro was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 2007.
On Monday, Mr. Duterte maintained that he did not personally know De Castro or any of the contenders for the position.
“I’m not familiar with any of them actually. I don’t know any of them personally… They are all strangers to me,” he said.
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