By Joel R. San Juan, August 21 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

FOUR associate justices of the Supreme Court  are now vying for the Chief Justice (CJ) position that will be vacated when Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin compulsorily retires on October 18.

Associate Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe were among the five senior associate justices of the SC who were automatically considered by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the post.

The other three justices automatically considered were Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Associate Justice Benjamin S. Caguioa and Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen.

However, only Peralta and Bernabe accepted their automatic nomination for the CJ post while Carpio, Caguioa and Leonen decided to turn down their automatic nomination.

Peralta, who was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the SC in 2009, and Bernabe—appointed by former President Aquino in 2011—are both 67 years old.

Peralta was born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, and started his career in government service in 1987 when he was appointed third assistant  city fiscal of Laoag City.

On the other hand, Bernabe joined the judiciary as technical assistant in the office of then Justice Lorenzo Relova upon her graduation from the Ateneo College of Law and passing the Bar in 1976.

From 1978 to 1993, she engaged in private legal practice working for China Banking Corp., Paramount Finance Corp. and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.

In 1996, Bernabe returned to the judiciary as she was named Metropolitan Trial Court judge of the Makati City, Branch 66.

In 2000, she was promoted to Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 142. She was promoted to the Commission on Appointment (CA) on March 15, 2004.

In declining his automatic nomination for the CJ post, Carpio said, “I am declining because there are only eight days left from the vacancy to my compulsory retirement.”

Leonen, on the other hand, said: “For now, in my considered judgment, my decision is the right thing to do for myself, this Court and this country. I will be able to do what I do best for our people in my current position.”

2 Reyeses in race

ASIDE from Peralta and Bernabe, Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr., was also nominated for the position.

The 69-year-old associate justice was nominated by retired SC Associate Justice Jose P. Perez and retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon.

Reyes, who has accepted his nomination, was a trial judge from 1987 until 1999, when he was appointed Associate Justice of the CA.

On February 10, 2010, he was appointed presiding justice of the appellate court until his appointment to the SC in 2017 by President Duterte.

Likewise, SC Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr. has also joined those vying for the CJ post, according to the Judicial and Bar Council.

The 68-year-old Justice Reyes will have until September 2020 to serve as chief magistrate if he gets appointed to the position.

He was appointed to the SC post by President Duterte on August 9, 2018.

He served as a trial court judge for 16 years prior to his appointment as an appellate court justice in 2003.

Tuesday was the deadline for the application and nomination for the CJ post.