The search is on for the next chief justice

Lian Buan
The search is on for the next chief justice

LeAnne Jazul

The 5 most senior justices are automatically nominated

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) announced on Monday, June 25, that the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is already accepting applications for the next chief justice, replacing the ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The deadline for completing the requirements is 4:30 pm on July 26.

The 5 most senior justices are automatically nominated, but they have to accept their nominations on the day of the deadline.

The senior justices are: 

  1. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
  2. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr
  3. Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro
  4. Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
  5. Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta

Carpio said he will decline a chief justice nomination out of principle because he does not want to benefit from the quo warranto ouster that he dissented to.

Velasco will retire on August 8, while De Castro will retire in October.

Bersamin has one year to go; he will retire in October 2019. It is Peralta who has more years left to serve at the Supreme Court, with retirement date in March 2022.

Associate Justice Samuel Martires said during the JBC interviews for Ombudsman that he would want Carpio to be chief justice to restore the honored tradition of the most senior getting the top spot. Insiders said other justices would also like Carpio to be chief justice before he retires in October 2019.

Carpio’s criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy towards China is believed to be a deal-breaker in getting the appointment if he does accept a nomination. In a television interview, Carpio said the country’s sovereignty is “far more important than any position and the presidency.”

Duterte is not precluded from appointing as chief justice someone who is not an incumbent justice. But if he does that, it will once again ruffle some feathers in the Supreme Court that never accepted Sereno who skipped steps to rise from junior justice to top magistrate. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.