MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Thursday, October 25, vouched for Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as the next Philippine Chief Justice.
Carpio is fondly called in judiciary circles as the longest acting chief justice. He has acted as chief justice during times when there was a vacancy in the High Court since Renato Corona’s time.
“At times he acted as Chief Justice, decisions were efficient, decisions of other justices are respected, there was good facilitation of discussion in the en banc, he’s the easy logical choice,” said Leonen in a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday.
Carpio acted as Chief Justice when Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted and again now after the retirement of Teresita Leonardo de Castro.
“There is a lot of confidence in how the Court is managed even though he is Acting Chief Justice,” Leonen said.
Carpio is vying for chief justice even as he continues to speak out against the China policy of the appointing power – President Rodrigo Duterte.
Carpio did not apply for the chief justice post after Sereno because he opposed the quo warranto ouster.
After the retirement of De Castro, Carpio accepted his automatic nomination for chief justice, alongside fellow senior justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, and Estela Perlas Bernabe.
The 4th most senior justice, Mariano del Castillo, declined, while the 3rd most junior justice Andres Reyes Jr applied.
Leonen defended the Supreme Court putting a lot of value on seniority. Leonen said seniority means the justice has already chaired committees and divisions, and therefore could lead the Supreme Court better.
“In 2-3 years you are [just] introducing yourself to your colleagues, and it’s difficult to pluck someone from the most junior ranks and put them to the leadership position,” Leonen said.
Sereno was the most junior justice in the Court when she became chief justice in 2012.
That is why Leonen said that although Reyes “has a lot of talent and skill, I think we should not repeat what has happened in the past, we should look at the top 5.”
“Among the 5, each has peculiar abilities, but Carpio, as I said, has the gravitas, and easily, he would be the most logical choice,” Leonen said. (READ: Carpio is more trusted than Arroyo – Pulse Asia)
Leonen added: “He…is respected in terms of intellectual capability, he has experienced a lot in terms of the Court and in terms of politics.” – Rappler.com