Duterte personally congratulates de Castro for CJ appointment

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has personally congratulated newly-appointed Supreme Court (SC) chief justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro after she her took oath before the Chief Executive on Friday (Aug. 31).

The President congratulated Chief Justice De Castro and told her that she deserves the appointment, a press statement said.

De Castro was accompanied by her family during her oath-taking before the President at the Rizal Hall of MalacaAang Palace.

Officials present during the ceremony were Special Assistant to the President Secretary Christopher Lawrence 'Bong' Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr., Solicitor General Jose Calida, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, and Senator Richard Gordon.

Supreme Court justices and members of the Judicial and Bar Council were also present.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier confirmed that De Castro was appointed as the country's top magistrate on August 25.

However, De Castro will only serve as chief justice for less than two months since she will reach the mandatory age of retirement in October this year.

De Castro was appointed to the Supreme Court in December 2007 and has also served as Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan.

In a chance interview last Aug. 27, Duterte told reporters that his basis for appointing de Castro as the new chief justice is seniority.

Sa lahat yan sa civil service, sa military, pati sa everybody, seniority and parang conveyor (In every agency, in the civil service, military, everybody, seniority and being a conveyor is the basis), Duterte said.

First, sino 'yung nauna, sya 'yungand it will be the same for all justices, not only de Castro. Lahat yan sila (Who came first? It will be the same for all justices, not only de Castro. All of them), he added, noting that it was a different story if the justices refused their appointment.

He also denied an opposition lawmaker's claim that De Castro's appointment was her reward for voting for the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Magdalao Rep. Gary Alejano earlier described de Castro's appointment as bayad-utang (payment for debt).

Duterte shrugged off Alejano's remark, saying he has yet to hear the lawmaker say something without malice.

Earlier, de Castro said she has no time to think about the impeachment complaint filed by opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives against her and six other magistrates, who voted to oust her predecessor via quo warranto proceedings.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin filed impeachment complaints against the seven SC justices for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

I have no time to think about it, because you know as you mentioned, I have very few weeks to work here in the court, and I don't want to be distracted by anything else, my schedule is full, I have so many activities set in the coming weeks, I do not wish to be distracted by that, de Castro said in a press conference last Aug. 28.

Aside from de Castro, the other magistrates facing impeachment raps are Noel Tijam, de Castro, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta, and Francis Jardeleza. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency