By REY G. PANALIGAN
THE Judicial and Bar Council yesterday nominated Supreme Court Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, and Lucas P. Bersamin to the Chief Justice post that was vacated by Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno last June 19.
De Castro and Peralta got six votes while Bersamin got five votes from the seven members of the JBC, the constitutional office that nominates appointments to the Judiciary.
President Duterte is mandated by the Constitution to appoint Sereno’s replacement within 90 days from June 19 or until Sept. 17. De Castro is retiring in October, Peralta in March 2022, and Bersamin in October next year.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the most senior SC associate justice, declined his automatic nomination by the JBC and those given by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr.
Carpio dissented in the 8-6 voting of the SC in ousting Sereno.
With the appointment of a new Chief Justice from the list of JBC nominees, there would still be two vacancies in the SC – the post vacated by retired Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires who was appointed Ombudsman and the post that would be vacated whoever is appointed Chief Justice.
The President appointed Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr. to the post vacated by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. who retired last Aug. 8 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 for members of the Judiciary.
JBC sources said the council members took up the issue on the filing of impeachment complaint against the three nominees. But the sources said the filing of the complaint did not disqualify the three nominees to the post of Chief Justice.
Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, ex-officio vice chairman of the JBC, said that in his personal opinion, “the mere filing of the impeachment complaint was not enough to disqualify since it is not yet considered an impeachment case until it is affirmatively acted upon by the appropriate House committee.”