Senators joke Peralta is next chief justice

Lian Buan

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Senators joke Peralta is next chief justice


Justice Diosdado Peralta, the most senior of the applicants, represents the judiciary in budget hearings of both chambers of Congress

Senators now call him the chief.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, a chief justice applicant, laughed off on Monday, September 30, the teasing of senators who called him the next chief justice. (READ: How they voted: Meet the chief justice aspirants for 2019)

As he did at the House of Representatives, Peralta represented the judiciary at the Senate to defend its P38.71-billion budget for 2020.

Senator Franklin Drilon repeatedly called Peralta chief.

“May I request for Court Administrator (Midas) Marquez with the guidance of the chief, I mean Justice Peralta, to come up with remedial legislation,” Drilon said as he and Senator Sonny Angara discussed with the Justice, possible adjustments in rules to avoid the recycling of seized drugs.

Marquez joined in on the teasing, saying, “with the guidance of the chief your honor,” referring to Peralta.

Peralta is the most senior of the 4 chief justice applicants, who include Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr ,and Jose Reyes Jr.

This is the third time that Peralta is applying to be chief justice. Peralta was bypassed for the post when President Rodrigo Duterte picked retired chief justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, and then retiring chief justice Lucas Bersamin. Peralta was more senior than Bersamin.

“I dropped by to express my support to the Supreme Court family, my Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) mentor, the next chief justice,” said Senator Francis Tolentino who spoke in the budget hearing, only to say he supports the SC.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will hold its public interviews of the chief justice applicants on Wednesday, October 2.

After Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted, Peralta was reported to be a front-runner in the race for chief justice, with his ace being no less than then-speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Arroyo appointed Peralta to the SC in 2009, the last full year of her presidency. Their fathers were friends; Peralta was even named after Arroyo’s father, former president Diosdado Macapagal.

Decisions and votes

Peralta has been advocating for reforms in the handling of drugs cases, being the ponente of People vs Lim, where the High Court warned police and prosecutors that a weak drug case would be thrown out. It set a precedent for succeeding acquittals that aimed to prevent planting of evidence by the cops.

People v Lim has since been a hot topic in the judiciary, particularly how it affects the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Peralta earlier said “we are failing in drugs cases” due to the sheer volume of cases being filed, overwhelming both prosecutors and courts.  

Peralta penned the controversial ponencia that allowed a hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, triggering nationwide protests. 

Peralta also wrote the ponencia that made the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law retroactive.

So far, Peralta has never voted against the President in cases that directly impacted his administration – like the martial law in Mindanao cases – and even those that were of interest to him, like the quo warranto ouster of Sereno.

Key SC decisions from 2006 indicate that Peralta, as well as Andres Reyes Jr, lean towards the executive or politicians. – 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.