MANILASupreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin has received the highest number of votes from his fellow magistrates in the search for the country's next Chief Justice, the High Court's spokesman, Theodore Te, said Tuesday.
Bersamin got 10 votes from the en banc, followed by SC Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Diosdado Peralta with nine votes each, while Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr., got two votes, Te said during a press briefing after the SC's en banc session.
The results of the voting will be forwarded to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
On Monday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the JBC is set to convene on Friday for the initial evaluation of the five candidates vying for the top judiciary post.
The five candidates, who managed to beat the July 26 deadline for the submission of requirements for the top magistrate post are de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Reyes, and Tagum City, Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court Branch 1 Judge Virginia Tejano-Ang.
De Castro, Bersamin and Peralta were among the six justices who asked by ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to inhibit from the deliberation on the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, which was eventually granted by the Court in a decision issued last May 11. The decision became final on June 19.
The quo warranto petition sought the nullification of Sereno's appointment as Chief Justice for her failure to comply with the requirements to qualify for the position.
De Castro, Bersamin and Peralta were appointed by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Bersamin was first to submit his acceptance of the nomination for Chief Justice. A former Court of Appeals (CA) justice, he was appointed by Arroyo to the High Court on April 2, 2009.
Prior to being a CA magistrate, he was the presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 96. He will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in October 2019.
Peralta, a former Sandiganbayan presiding justice, was also appointed by Arroyo to the SC on Jan. 13, 2009.
He penned the ruling allowing the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He will retire in March 2022.
De Castro, the third most senior magistrate of the High Court, was among those who testified against ousted Chief Justice Sereno during the impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.
Prior to her appointment to the SC, de Castro served as a law clerk at the High Court, state counsel for the Department of Justice (DOJ), and presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan. She penned the ruling convicting former president Joseph Estrada of plunder. De Castro is set to retire this October.
Reyes, a former CA presiding justice, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to the SC in July 2017. He penned a ruling declaring as unconstitutional then justice secretary Leila de Lima's Department Order No. 41, which authorizes the Secretary of Justice to issue Hold Departure Orders, Watch List Orders, or Allow Departure Orders.
The circular was used as basis for imposing a travel ban against Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, pending the resolution of the plunder and electoral sabotage charges filed against them.
Tejano-Ang, meanwhile, was the judge who issued an arrest warrant against a suspect in the killing of a local radio anchor in September 2014. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency