THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Tuesday endorsed the nomination of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for the chief justice position, which is now vacant following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno through a quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
The lawyers’ group, led by its national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, said the IBP’s Board of Governors endorsed Carpio for the top judiciary post.
“We are faced with the reality that the Supreme Court (SC) itself has set into motion the appointment of chief justice vice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno. We thus support the return to, and the recognition of the wisdom, of the long-standing tradition of seniority in the appointment to the highest office of the judiciary, the Supreme Court Chief Justice,” Fajardo said in a statement.
Traditionally, the five most senior justices of the high court are automatically nominated for the chief justice post.
Aside from Carpio, the four most senior justices include Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.
Velasco and De Castro, however, are mandated to retire in August and October this year, respectively.
Peralta, who ranks fourth in terms of seniority, has still four years before retirement.
Carpio earlier said he would decline all nominations for the top judiciary post, stressing that he doesn’t want to benefit from the quo warranto petition that ousted Sereno.
Though he voted against Sereno’s removal, Carpio said the latter committed culpable violation of the Constitution when she failed to submit all her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) when she applied for the chief justice position in 2012.
Carpio was one of the six justices who dissented from the ruling that nullified Sereno’s appointment as chief justice.
He was appointed to the high court by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001 and is set to retire from the judiciary in 2019.
Asked what the JBC will do once he formally declines a nomination, Carpio said his name will not be included on the list of nominees to be submitted to Malacañang.
On Monday, the JBC officially opened the application for the position of chief justice.
In a statement Monday, the SC Public Information Office said the deadline for filing and completing all requirements is on July 26.
To qualify for a position in the judiciary, one has to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and should possess “proven competence, integrity, probity and independence”.
Those applying to the 15-member SC should also be at least 40 years old, a judge of a lower court or had been engaged in the practice of law in the country.
Applications may be made by the applicants themselves or through the recommendation of another person, association, or organization. Endorsements or recommendations have to be formally accepted by the person being recommended.
The JBC kept the same requirements for applicants – including the submission of at least 10 SALNs.
To recall, the failure of Sereno to meet this 10-SALN requirement was among the grounds cited by the SC in ordering her ouster from the SC. The Court invalidated her appointment in 2012 due to lack of proven integrity.
The seven-member council tasked to vet nominees to judicial posts listed 24 documentary requirements for nominees and applicants.
Among them are “SALNs for the last 10 years in case of applicants in government service, or for 2017 for those in the private sector.”
The JBC started the search for Sereno’s replacement after the High Court made final its decision ousting her from the top judicial post last week. It set the deadline for nomination and application for July 26.
The 1987 Constitution requires that the chief justice position be filled within 90 days from vacancy or from the finality of the SC ruling last June 19.
President Rodrigo Duterte needs to appoint Sereno’s replacement by September.
The JBC is constitutionally mandated to screen applicants to the judiciary and top Ombudsman positions.
It is currently chaired by Senior Associate Justice, now acting Chief Justice Carpio, with ex-officio members Guevarra, Senator Richard Gordon, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Its regular members include retired SC Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza representing the justices and chairperson of the JBC Executive Committee; Atty. Jose Mejia representing the academe, Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa representing the IBP, and retired Judge Toribio Ilao representing the private sector.
The SC denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Sereno, who is the first top magistrate to be removed from office through quo warranto proceedings.