Peralta, Bernabe get top votes in chief justice short list

Lian Buan
Peralta, Bernabe get top votes in chief justice short list
Justice Jose Reyes Jr, getting only one vote, is dropped from the list

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Estela Perlas-Bernabe got perfect votes from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) in the short list for the next chief justice.

The JBC sent on Tuesday, February 15, the short list to President Rodrigo Duterte, which contains the names of Peralta, Bernabe, and Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr, the Supreme Court announced.

Peralta and Bernabe, the 2 most senior applicants, got 7 votes, or the total number of JBC members, while Reyes got 4 votes.

The last applicant, Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr, a junior magistrate, was dropped from the list for getting only one vote.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin will retire on Friday, October 18. (READ: How they voted: Meet the chief justice aspirants for 2019)

Peralta is retiring in March 2022 and Bernabe in May 2022, which means that if either is chosen, President Duterte can still appoint his or her replacement because there is no ban on midnight appointments in the Supreme Court.

If Andres Reyes Jr is appointed, Duterte can still name another chief justice in May 2020 when the justice retires. The President ends his term in June 2022.

After Duterte’s term

This matters because presidents are watched for their judiciary appointees who would serve even after their presidency, like how former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Supreme Court appointees continue to have influence in the Court today.

Peralta is an Arroyo appointee while Bernabe is an appointee of former president Benigno Aquino III. Andres Reyes is a Duterte appointee.

Duterte has started to pack the Supreme Court with young appointees who will serve long after his term.

When Duterte steps down in 2022, the Court will be left with only two members he has not appointed: Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa, both named by Aquino. –

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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.