#CJSearch: Is Peralta front-runner for chief justice?

Lian Buan

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#CJSearch: Is Peralta front-runner for chief justice?
Peralta denies telling people he is the next chief justice

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta is the second most senior applicant for chief justice, and if ever appointed, will serve the longest.

When he faced the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Thursday, August 26, Peralta was asked if it is true that he has been telling people he would be the next chief justice.

JBC member retired judge Toribio Ilao told Peralta that talk has not died down.

Peralta laughed at first and said: “Modesty aside, I’m not like that, that’s not my character.”

Arroyo connection

Another reported ace in Peralta’s pocket is former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose rise to House speakership speaks volumes about her influence.

Arroyo appointed Peralta to the SC in 2009. Their fathers were friends. 

Peralta was actually named after Arroyo’s father, former president Diosdado Macapagal.

When he was appointed to the SC, Newsbreak reported on questions about Peralta’s independence. An opposition filed against his application then described Peralta as a “go-between” for litigants.

“[The most senior applicants] are all appointees of President Arroyo. You can surmise she’ll be supporting one of them,” said legal analyst Tony La Viña. 

While Peralta and the two other senior applicants, Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Lucas Bersamin are also Arroyo appointees, La Viña said their near retirements may work against them.

De Castro retires October this year, while Bersamin retires in October 2019 yet.

‘Man is always above the woman’ 

An interesting scenario is if Peralta becomes chief justice and his wife Justice Audrey Peralta becomes the presiding justice of the Court of Appeals (CA).

Justice Audrey Peralta tried to apply for the post of CA presiding justice but was excluded because of missing requirements. 

Ilao started a line of questioning into the scenario, but Peralta did not let him finish.

“The man is always above the woman, so if she becomes the presiding justice of the Court of Appeals, I can reverse her. In other words, there will be no conflict, I hope,” Peralta said. (READ: #CJSearch: How did aspirants vote on key Supreme Court decisions?)

Ilao also asked Peralta about the latter’s controversial ponencia that allowed a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr, triggering nationwide protests.

The hero’s burial was heavily opposed because of accusations of human rights violations during Marcos’ martial law rule.

“Considering the events that transpired after that decision was promulgated, do you think the Filipinos found closure, and the families of the wounded and the dead from martial law were able to move on?” Ilao asked.

Peralta answered: “I hope that issue has been buried, because if you don’t bury that issue, we cannot move on. And I believe, whatever happened in the past, we should move on. We will not improve as a nation if you [do not move on.]”

Peralta, like Marcos, hails from Ilocos Norte. As he was being interviewed, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte would resign if former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr wins his vice presidential electoral protest.

We wanted to ask Peralta about his views on it, and the legal implications of such a scenario, but he did not grant an interview.

Among the 5 chief justice aspirants, Peralta has resolved the most number of cases, a total of 3,895. – Rappler.com

Watch the interviews here:
LIVE: JBC interviews Supreme Court Chief Justice aspirants 

Read other stories from the interviews:


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Lian Buan

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