Profile: Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro

SC Justice Teresita De Castro says the judiciary should be independent not only from the appointing power, but from "a news article or a book"

MANILA, Philippines  – Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro will be vying for the post of chief justice for the second time.  

In 2010, she decried before the Judicial and Bar Council – the body that screens and vets aspirants for judiciary posts – how the public would easily criticize the Supreme Court for its controversial decisions. 

She said the Court’s independence was immediately questioned by the media each time the SC voted in favor of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in politically-sensitive cases. 

Hence, when asked to define independence then, she said: “Independence from undue influence, not only from the appointing power, as it [influence] may come from a news article or a book.”  

One of those whose impartiality was doubted was then Chief Justice Renato Corona. When Corona, whom Arroyo appointed in 2002 as associate justice and then chief justice in 2010, was subjected to an impeachment trial in 2012, De Castro threw her support behind him.

De Castro, who heads the Philippine Women Judges Association, said during the Corona trial that the group “is always praying for you [Corona] as you lead the Judiciary in upholding Judicial Independence, observance of the Rule of Law.”

Competence

  • Has disposed 1, 586 cases for 4 1/2 years
  • Has a current caseload of 681 cases as of June 30, 2012
  • Has an average monthly output of 29 cases 

Qualifications

Vice-chair or member in the following committees: Judical Reform Support Program management committee, committee on gender responsiveness in the judiciary, committee on computerization and library 

Finished law in UP

Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UP 

Former Sandiganbayan Justice 

Assistant chief state counsel at the Department of Justice 

Consultant, Advisory and Administrative Support Office, RP Panel, Military Bases Agreement Joint Committee, 1987-1990

Issues/controversies:

De Castro heads the Judicial Reform Support Program management committee. In 2011, the World Bank wrote her and said the Supreme Court has to return a total of US$199,000 (P8.6-M) in “ineligible” funds by the end of January, saying the High Tribunal spent this on activities and projects not covered by a US$21-million loan agreement between both parties for the judicial reform project. 

She was admonished by the SC in 2003 for banging her gavel twice and snapping at lawyer Rene Saguisag, who was then caught in an argument with retired SC Justice Serafin Cuevas in the courtroom. Both Saguisag and Cuevas were then defense counsels of ousted president Joseph Estrada in the case of plunder. 

Independence

De Castro’s independence was put to doubt when she was appointed SC justice in 2007. She was one of the 3 Sandiganbayan magistrates who convicted ousted President Joseph Estrada of plunder, pushing the former president to say her appointment to the SC was a “reward.” – Rappler.com

(Sources: personal data sheet, Newsbreak, www.gmanews.tv)

 

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