Carpio vies for Supreme Court chief justice

Lian Buan
SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo declines the nomination to be the country's next top magistrate

VYING FOR TOP MAGISTRATE. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has accepted the nomination to be the next chief justice. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has accepted his nomination for chief justice, the Supreme Court confirmed on Friday, October 12. 

Carpio sent his confirmation to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Friday, according to his judicial staff head Maria Teresa Sibulo.

Carpio is among the 5 most senior justices of the Court automatically nominated to become the next chief magistrate.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo declined his nomination, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, an ex-officio JBC member. 

The two most senior justices after Carpio – Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin – have previously confirmed. Peralta and Bersamin earlier applied for the chief justice post that was eventually given to newly-retired Teresita Leonardo De Castro.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, the 5th most senior justice, has yet to confirm. 

Bernabe is the only appointee of then president Benigno Aquino III among the 5 most senior justices. The rest are appointees of former president now House Speaker Gloria Arroyo. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, while defending his choice to appoint De Castro despite having only a little bit over a month to serve, said that he will base his appointments in the Supreme Court mainly on seniority.

As early as August, Duterte had been asked about a possible chief justice appointment for Carpio, who he has clashed with on many issues, topped by the West Philippine Sea.  

Duterte said then he didn’t believe  Carpio would accept a nomination, apparently based on Carpio’s earlier decision to decline a similar nomination. That decision, however, was on account of his dissenting vote on the quo warranto petition against Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Carpio has not slowed down criticizing Duterte’s pivot to China, particularly in relation to the dispute with the Asian giant in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Carpio said on Tuesday, October 9, that the President’s unilateral withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC) would significantly weaken the Phillipines’ stance against a possible Chinese invasion of the Spratly Islands.

Asked once more this week about possibly appointing Carpio, Duterte said he would cross the bridge when he gets there.

Carpio, an Arroyo appointee, handed down scathing decisions against the Arroyo administration, including thumbing down the People’s Initiative in 2006 which sought to extend the former president’s term.

Carpio and Bersamin are both set to retire in October 2019, and Peralta and Bernabe in 2022.

The JBC has extended the deadine for chief justice applications until October 26. – Rappler.com 

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.