(OCTOBER 23, 2019) – President Rodrigo Duterte appointed a new Supreme Court chief justice to replace Lucas Bersamin, who is leaving the bench after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years old, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said on Wednesday.
Diosdado Peralta, the most senior associate justice next to retiring Antonio Carpio, was chosen among three candidates short listed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). The other contenders were Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Andres Reyes Jr.
He is the third chief justice to be appointed by Duterte, next to former top magistrates Teresita de Castro and Lucas Bersamin, and the 26th top magistrate in Philippine history.
Peralta, who has applied for the job three times, will retire on March 2022, a few months before Duterte steps down as President on June 30, 2022. By that time, Duterte has already appointed four chief justices to the 15-member Supreme Court.
Peralta, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law, began his career as a judge at a regional trial court in Quezon City in 1994.
Eight years later, he was elevated to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan as an associate justice by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He later became the anti-graft court’s presiding justice before joining the Supreme Court in 2009.
Peralta was part of the division that convicted former president Joseph Estrada of plunder in 2007.
‘I DESERVE TO BE CJ’
During a nearly two-hour interview on October 2, a teary-eyed Peralta told JBC he deserved the chief justice position because of the body of work he had put in throughout his career in the judiciary.
“If I remember what I have experienced since I started working, mahirap eh. I think I deserve to be chief justice because I worked very hard all these years,” he said.
The JBC had also grilled Peralta about his plans to address the longstanding flaws in the country’s justice system such as clogged court dockets, as well as the killing of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.
In 2019, Peralta wrote a ruling granting the retroactive application of the controversial Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GTCA) law. He has also been in the frontlines of promoting reforms in the handling of drug cases.
As ponente or writer of SC decision of People v. Lim, he was instrumental in the high court’s 2018 ruling that would “weed out early on from the courts’ already congested docket any orchestrated or poorly built up drug-related cases.”
Peralta also made headlines in 2016, when he penned the SC decision upholding the legality of the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Other key matters he had voted for was upholding the legality of Senator Leila de Lima’s arrest on non-bailable drug charges, the extensions of martial law in Mindanao, and the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Winona Sadia/AAD)
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