By Vann Marlo M. Villegas
FIVE Supreme Court (SC) justices are vying for the position of chief justice (CJ) vacated by Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, now retired.
Four out of five most senior justices who accepted their automatic nomination are associate justices Antonio T. Carpio, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.
The only junior justice who applied for CJ is Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr.
Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo is the only most senior justice who declined the nomination, citing his short stint as CJ if appointed, due to his impending retirement as well as his heading the 2018 Bar Examinations.
The five will compose the nominees for the top magistrate as no additional applications were submitted before the deadline on Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m., said Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), in a text message to reporters.
The application for chief justice was extended from Oct. 15 to Oct. 26.
However, there will be no public interviews to be held for senior justices after the JBC agreed with an SC resolution which stated that senior justices aiming for the top magistrate post should be exempted from public interviews.
Mr. Guevarra said in a previous statement that CJ nominees will be privately interviewed by the JBC.
Mr. Reyes, an appointee in 2017, was interviewed for the top post in August 2018 following the ouster of Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno as chief justice through quo warranto this year. His previous interview is still considered valid.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has 90 days to appoint a chief justice after Ms. De Castro’s retirement last Oct. 10 upon her reaching the mandatory age of 70.