Leonen: I’m not cut out to be Chief Justice at current time | Inquirer News

Leonen: I’m not cut out to be Chief Justice at current time

/ 06:41 PM January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, one of the most senior justices in the Supreme Court, said Friday he is “not cut out at the current time” to be Chief Justice. 

During the online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), Leonen was asked if he would accept his automatic nomination for the post this March once Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta retires. 

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“No comment yet. I am honored to have been automatically nominated, but that is also a function of seniority, but of course in my mind I think am looking at what I should do, and more likely, I am better at supporting a chief justice rather than being one. But as I said, no comment,” Leonen said.

Asked if he fits the role of Chief Justice, Leonen said: “No, I’m not cut out for chief justice at the current time.”

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According to Leonen, among the abilities a chief justice must possess is the ability to manage and administer the entire judiciary. 

Further, he added that a Chief Justice must be able to communicate the ideas of the judiciary to the public and act to protect the independence of the judicial branch. 

Who is the next Chief Justice?

In December last year, Peralta announced his early retirement effective March 27, 2021, his 69th birthday.

With Peralta’s early retirement, once the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) opens the nomination for his replacement, the five most senior Associate Justices of the Supreme Court will automatically be nominated.

However, they still need to submit a letter accepting the nomination.

If the seniority rule would be followed, next to Peralta is Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe who will retire on May 14, 2022. Two other most senior magistrates are non-Duterte appointees and known dissenters, Leonen (retiring on Dec. 29, 2032) and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa (retiring on Sept. 26, 2029). 

Completing the five most senior are Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo (retiring on Nov. 6, 2026 and Ramon Paul Hernando (retiring on Aug. 27, 2036).

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