Peralta, Bersamin toss hats into ring anew
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta joined fellow Supreme Court senior magistrate Lucas Bersamin in vying for the Chief Justice post for the second time.
Peralta informed the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Wednesday that he would accept his automatic nomination, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, one of the seven members of the council that endorses candidates for the judiciary.
Bersamin notified the JBC of his decision earlier this week.
Peralta and Bersamin were also endorsed by the JBC last August for the judiciary’s top post but President Duterte picked Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, the most senior magistrate in the shortlist, as Chief Justice.
De Castro mandatorily retired on Wednesday after only six weeks in the post.
Rebuke of Aquino
In choosing De Castro, President Duterte said he upheld the seniority tradition in the high court, a clear rebuke of former President Benigno Aquino III, who appointed the ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2012 even if she was the most junior member of the high court at the time.
The JBC automatically considers the five most senior Supreme Court justices as candidates for Chief Justice, but each has to formally accept the nomination.
The five most senior magistrates are acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Peralta, Bersamin and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, in that order.
Until Oct. 15
They have until Oct. 15 to accept their nomination.
Carpio declined to be nominated last August, saying he did not want to benefit from Sereno’s ouster since he had disagreed with the majority decision nullifying Sereno’s appointment through a quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Last week, Carpio said there was no more reason for him to decline his nomination this time. He has not notified the JBC of his acceptance, though.
Carpio, Peralta, Bersamin and Del Castillo were appointed to the high court by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, while Perlas was appointed by Aquino.
CJ for just a year
Carpio has been with the Supreme Court for 17 years while Peralta, Bersamin and Del Castillo have sat on the bench for nine years. Perlas has been with the court for seven years.
If appointed Chief Justice, Carpio, Bersamin and Del Castillo will hold the post for just a year since they will all retire in 2019.
Peralta and Perlas will retire in 2022.
Duterte’s seventh Supreme Court appointee, Associate Justice Ramon Hernando, took his oath before Peralta on Thursday.
Hernando, 52, a former Court of Appeals associate justice, replaced Samuel Martires, who was appointed Ombudsman by President last July 26.
Duterte is expected to appoint at least 10 Supreme Court justices over his six-year term.
Apart from Hernando, the President has so far appointed five other associate justices—Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Jose Reyes Jr., and Martires—as well as a Chief Justice, De Castro.
After appointing the new Chief Justice, Duterte would also appoint another justice to take the place of De Castro.
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