FAST FACTS: Who is new Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta?

Jodesz Gavilan
FAST FACTS: Who is new Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta?
In October 2019, then Supreme Court associate justice Diosdado Peralta tells the Judicial and Bar Council that he deserves to be chief justice

MANILA, Philippines – Diosdado Peralta is the new Supreme Court chief justice

His appointment by President Rodrigo Duterte was announced on Wednesday, October 23, as confirmed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. Peralta replaces Lucas Bersamin who retired on October 18. 

He is set to serve as chief justice until March 27, 2022. 

What else do we need to know about the new SC chief justice? 

‘I deserve to be chief justice’

Peralta has been working for the government for more than 3 decades, starting as fiscal in 1987 in his hometown of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, then as prosecutor in Manila in 1988.

He then became the assistant chief of the investigation division of the Office of the City Prosecutor in the first months of 1994.

Later in the year, Peralta was appointed judge to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95, the designated special criminal court on heinous crimes and eventually drug cases. As trial judge, he was recognized in 1999 by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Quezon City chapter for “his speedy and scholarly disposition of criminal cases.”

Peralta became a Sandiganbayan associate justice in 2002, even a member of the Sandiganbayan Special Division that convicted former president Joseph Estrada of plunder. He became presiding justice in 2008.

On January 13, 2009, he was appointed SC justice by then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He has served as justice in the SC for more than 10 years before his appointment as chief justice. 

During the interviews conducted by the Judicial and Bar Council in October, Peralta shared his dreams of leading the SC.

If I remember what I have experienced since I started working, mahirap eh (it’s hard), I think I deserve to be chief justice because I worked very hard all these years,” he told the JBC panel. 

Turning emotional, Peralta ended the interview by saying that he’s not “a topnotcher, I’m not an honor student, because that’s what they say…but I think I was able to compensate with the work that I had done…I think they are more than enough to compensate with what they say that I do not deserve [to be chief justice].”

Peralta was appointed SC chief justice after applying 3 times. The two times he applied, the position was given to retired chief justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro and retiring chief justice Lucas Bersamin, respectively. 

Peralta obtained his law degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1979 and his undergraduate degree from Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1974. He joined the Bar in 1980.

His wife, Fernanda Lampas Peralta, is a Court of Appeals Associate Justice. 

In 2002, Peralta was given the Judicial Excellence Awards or the Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Award for Outstanding Regional Trial Court Judge.

Peralta also taught criminal law and remedial law, among others, in several universities, including the UST Faculty of Civil Law, the Ateneo Law School, San Beda College of Law, the University of the East, and the University of the Philippines Law Center, to name a few. 

Before joining the government, Peralta worked as production analyst of Cosmos Bottling Corporation (CBC) in 1974 and as operating supervisor in Widsom  Management Inc in 1975. He also worked as general manager for Ace Agro Development Corporation and vice president of Cypress Agricultural Development Corporation. 

Never against Duterte

Peralta has never voted against the President in cases that directly involved the current administration. These include the constitutionality of the martial law declaration in Mindanao and its extensions and the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno. (READ: How they voted: Meet the chief justice aspirants for 2019)

He was also the ponente of the controversial SC decision allowing a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Peralta also wrote the decision that allowed plea bargaining in small time drug cases. Defending his work before the JBC, he said that most of the cases involve small amounts of illegal drugs. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.