THERE WILL BE no public interviews for senior associate justices vying for the position of chief justice, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Monday.
Mr. Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), told reporters in a text message that the JBC agreed to the Supreme Court (SC) resolution which stated that senior associate justices applying for the position of chief justice should be exempted from public interviews.
“In the end, by a majority vote, the JBC agreed to dispense with the public interviews of senior SC justices vying for the CJ position, without prejudice to closed-door interviews by the members of the JBC,” he said.
He also said the JBC took note that the associate justices were publicly interviewed when they originally applied for their respective positions in the SC.
“(A)ny public inquiry anew on matters pertaining to their SALNs and other personal matters in full view of the public thru live media coverage would not serve any substantially useful purpose,” Mr. Guevarra said.
“In any event, the CJ nominees will still be thoroughly interviewed by the JBC, though not in full glare of the public, and if any formal amendment to the JBC rules is necessary, the same will be so done,” he added.
The SC unanimously approved a resolution that senior SC justices among the applicants for chief justice should be exempted from the public interviews.
“All the rest will be publicly interviewed,” Mr. Guevarra said. “For non-SC justices applying for CJ, the public interview is mandatory because they’re not even part of the SC yet. For junior SC associate justices, they have yet to prove themselves worthy of aspiring to become primus inter pares (first among equals).”
The current nominees are Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and four of the five automatically nominated senior justices: Antonio T. Carpio, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.
Mr. Reyes, who was appointed only in 2017, was interviewed for the position of chief justice following the controversial ouster of Maria Lourdes P.A. Serena through quo warranto this year.
Only Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo, among the automatically nominated senior justices, declined to be nominated, saying he only has one year to be the chief justice before his retirement and will head the 2018 Bar Examinations.
The next chief justice will succeed Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro who retired on Oct. 10 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Application for chief justice was extended from Oct. 15 to Oct. 26. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas