Saguisag turns down CJ nomination

The former senator says he's past the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Supreme Court justices

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer and former Senator Rene Saguisag has declined his nomination for the chief justice post, citing his age.

In a statement emailed to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body that vets judiciary aspirants to the President, Saguisag said he is already 72, past the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Supreme Court justices.

Saguisag noted he had turned down several overtures for the SC and other posts. He was appointed to the high court in 1987 by then President Corazon Aquino, but he declined. 

“I had always said that whatever little I had done earlier for the Motherland was its own reward… Like General Sherman, if nominated I will not accept, if appointed, I will not serve, ha, ha,” he wrote.

Earlier, another nominee, 80-year-old retired Court of Appeals Justice Hilarion Aquino was disqualified from the contention because of his age.

Saguisag is the 5th among 45 nominees (as of June 19) to decline his nomination. Defeated presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro, Landphil president Rodolfo Robles, former assistant provincial prosecutor Marianito Sasodoncillo and Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios also declined their respective nominations.

Former energy Secretary Raphael “Popo” Lotilla also said he was turning down his nomination, but has yet to formally inform the JBC.

So far, 11 nominees, who are all from outside the SC, have accepted their nominations. They include De La Salle law dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Commission on Elections official Rene Sarmiento, former executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora, retired Judge Manuel Siyangco Jr, former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva, University of the Philippines professors Katrina Legarda and Rafael Morales, and former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan.

Two SC magistrates — Justices Roberto Abad and Arturo Brion — also accepted their nominations. Abad, who was appointed in 2009, will step down in 2014 when he reaches the age of 70. Saguisag endorsed him, citing the need for an “interim chief justice.”

On the other hand, Brion, who is retiring in March 2016, is among 5 most senior SC justices who were automatically nominated for the post vacated by Renato Corona. The other 4 include Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio (retiring in October 2019), Teresita Leonardo De Castro (December 2018), Presbitero Velasco (March 2018), and Diosdado Peralta (January 2022).

The other SC magistrates who were nominated are Justices Lourdes Sereno, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Jose Perez.

President Aquino has until August 29 to appoint Corona’s replacement. Corona was found guilty by the impeachment court of violating the Constitution and betraying public trust after he failed to disclose P183-M in peso and dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. –

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