By JEFFREY G. DAMICOG
PRESIDENT Duterte has appointed Senior Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro as the new Chief Justice.
“Justice de Castro is the new CJ,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a day after the Judicial and Bar Council released its shortlist of candidates for the post.
However, De Castro only has over a month to serve as Chief Justice as she is set to retire on Oct. 8.
Despite this, Guevarra, the ex-officio vice chairperson of the JBC, believes De Castro deserves the appointment. “Her appointment as Chief Justice is a fitting finale to her illustrious career in both the Department of Justice and the Judiciary,” said Guevarra.
The JBC, which is tasked under the Constitution to screen applicants for the Judiciary, last Friday nominated De Castro and Senior Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin to the post which was vacated by Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno. The shortlist was then submitted to Duterte.
De Castro received six votes from the JBC while Peralta had six and Bersamin with five.
Two other candidates did not make it to the shortlist – SC Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Tagum City Regional Trial Court Judge Virginia Tehano-Ang.
Guevarra said that Ang was disqualified by the JBC “because of an adverse finding and recommendation in her administrative case.”
“There’s also an unwritten rule that a judge cannot apply for a judicial position two levels higher, i.e., from MTC (Metropolitan Trial Court) to CA (Court of Appeals), or from RTC to SC,” he added.
Guevarra had earlier said that the impeachment complaints the three senior magistrates are facing did not affect their inclusion into the shortlist. “Mere filing of the impeachment complaint not enough to disqualify,” the Justice Secretary said.