MANILA Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday formally declined his automatic nomination for the country's top judiciary post.
I am declining the nomination for Chief Justice, Carpio said in a brief letter sent to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
By tradition, the five most senior justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are automatically nominated as Chief Justice.
This brings down the contenders for the top magistrate post to four associate justices, namely Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin.
The four magistrates have yet to signify whether they are interested in the position or not.
Velasco and de Castro, however, are mandated to retire in August and October, respectively.
Carpio earlier said he would decline any nomination because he does not want to benefit from the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Carpio is one of the justices who dissented from the May 11 ruling that ousted Sereno, stressing that a justice of the High Court should be removed from office only by impeachment, as stated under the 1987 Constitution.
He was nominated to replace Sereno by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
For his part, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday confirmed that the JBC would be requiring all nominees, including the five senior associate justices of the SC, to formally accept their nomination before they can be considered for the position that was left vacant following Sereno's ouster last June.
Guevarra said the rule requiring consent of the nominee for a judiciary post will stay, as agreed upon by the council during its meeting on July 20.
The same rule will continue to be applied, the nominee, even the most senior one, must agree to be nominated, the ex officio member of the JBC said in a text message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The JBC, he said, just "took note" of the proposal of retired chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. to automatically consider Carpio for the post.
Davide raised the possibility of their automatic inclusion on the shortlist of nominees after Carpio expressed his disinterest to be appointed as Sereno's replacement out of delicadeza, considering that he voted against the granting of the quo warranto petition.
Delicadeza should no longer be invoked because the decision in the quo warranto case is final,he said. Personal consideration must now yield to the demands of public interest.
Meanwhile, retired Sandiganbayan associate justice and former JBC member Raoul Victorino has endorsed the nomination of all incumbent 14 SC associate justices for the Chief Justice post.
"As a restored member of the bench, I believe that only through the leadership of one of the present members of the highest court could the court be unified to address the challenges, which arose from the recent unfolding of events," Victorino said in his letter to the JBC.
"In my humble opinion, an action in this direction would not only steer the judiciary to the right path, but also, and more important, it would motivate the High Court as a whole to further work together in fulfilling its Constitutional mandate," he added.
The JBC has set its first deliberation for the Chief Justice post on Aug. 3, a week after the deadline for the submission of applications and nominations for the post on July 26.
The SC formally opened last June 26 the search for the post of Chief Justice after it affirmed last June 19 its ruling that granted the quo warranto petition against Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The nominees for the post should first accept their nomination prior to the submission of the requirements, such as bank statements, and Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) among other documents.
The 1987 Constitution requires that the Chief Justice position must be filled within 90 days from vacancy, which means that President Rodrigo Duterte needs to appoint Sereno's replacement by September 16.
The failure of Sereno to meet the 10-SALN requirement was among the grounds cited by the SC in granting the quo warranto petition against her.
The petition sought to void Sereno's appointment as Chief Justice in 2012 due to her failure to submit before the JBC the SALNs she was supposed to have filed during her tenure as law professor of the University of the Philippines.
Last June 19, the High Court 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. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency