Leonen: 5 senior magistrates must accept CJ nomination

MANILA Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Thursday urged the five senior magistrates to accept the nominations as the next Chief Justice, stressing that seniority is an important qualification for the post.

Seniority is a marker of something. Seniority is a marker of experience, it is also a marker of a person who knows his or her colleagues. If you stay in the court longer, you become more familiar with the people that you work with including the staff, chief of offices, the judges of lower courts, the appellate courts, so seniority I think is a marker. It is not, per se, the only requirement, but seniority as a marker of something like experience, Leonen said in TV interview.

The five most senior magistrates are Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin.

Traditionally, the five most senior justices of the high court are automatically nominated for the top judiciary post.

[Acting Chief] Justice (Antonio) Carpio has been there for more than a decade. (Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-Castro) Tess De Castro I've seen her work, I've seen the way that she works, she is a work horse, she has a lot of good ideas. Justice (Diosdado) Dado Peralta one of the leading lights for continuous trials speedy trial and he gets people to work together. Justice (Lucas) Luke Bersamin is also somebody that can get well with the colleagues, have had the experience of working from the lower court to the Court, Leonen noted.

Velasco and De Castro, however, are set to retire in August and October this year, respectively.

Carpio, meanwhile, earlier said he would decline all nominations for the top judiciary post, stressing that he does not want to benefit from the quo warranto petition that ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Leonen, a former University of the Philippines (UP) law dean, said that he does not aspire to be the head of judiciary as it requires a capacity or an attitude that he cannot imagine doing right now.

He also said that as head of the tribunal, the Chief Justice is tasked to be a negotiator to find the middle ground.

Again, as I told you, you have to be able to find a middle ground, you have to have the gravitas to be able to bring people to listen to each other and then later on, come out with a decision, he added.

I have served close to six years in the Supreme Court, more and more I would think that seniority is a marker of something, said Leonen, who was appointed to the High Court in 2012 and currently the eighth most senior justice.

He said that right now, he is more concerned about convincing people about the standpoint that I am presenting.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) earlier declared open the applications or nominations for the position of Chief Justice, which was deemed vacant after the SC upheld its ruling in favor of the quo warranto petition that voided Sereno's appointment as top magistrate in 2012.

The JBC has set the deadline for filing and completion of all requirements for those vying for the top judiciary post on July 26. (With reports from Rachel Banares/OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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