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Can AJ Lucas Bersamin’s Appointment as Supreme Court Chief Justice Prevent Scalawags?

Supreme Court


By: Elena Grace Flores

With the retirement of Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de-Castro, Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin then accepted his automatic nomination for the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Shortly, before this, President Du30 appointed Associate Justice Paul Hernando from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. So far,  the President has appointed six associate justices in the SC. They are Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexader Gesmundo, Jose Reyes, and now Hernando. Bersamin previously voted against the ousted Chief Justice Marcia Lourdes Sereno.



YouTube video by ABS-CBN News

[VIDEO]:  Supreme Court Assoc. Justice Lucas Bersamin appeared before members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for a public interview as part of the application process for chief justice.


Sufficient Time

With the mandatory retirement age at 70, Bersamin said he still has sufficient time to make the Supreme Court’s image better despite retiring next year. He underwent a public interview before members of the Judicial and Bar Council for the application process of the chief justice post.

More Powers to the JBC

Furthermore, Bersamin says that he will grant more powers to the JBC should he be appointed as the next Chief Justice. This is to avoid making mistakes in appointing aspirants to judicial positions. He believes that the JBC needs more muscle to look into the qualifications of the applicants. Incidentally, he was one of the 8 magistrates who voted to nullify Chief Justice Sereno’s appointment. This is based on her alleged lack of qualification.


New Supreme Court Associate Justice

With his appointment to the Supreme Court by President Du30, Hernando takes his oath of office soon after. He appears before Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who incidentally is his wedding godfather.  In the CA, Hernando maintains an impressive record. He has zero backlogs, 417 disposed of cases in 2013 and 370 in 2012. With him being 52 at the moment, he still has 18 years to serve before the mandatory retirement age.

Bersamin to Prevent Sereno-Like Appointment

“There is no insurance to these kinds of mistakes. I do not ascribe that to the JBC. I rather ascribe that to the shortcomings of the pre-vetting process,” quoting Bersamin. He believes that we should improve the selection processes of the judiciary. Because there are still undeserving people who manage to get appointed. However, he is yet to elaborate what additional powers he intends to give to the JBC.



Inadequate Publication Allows Scalawags in the Country to Rule

To quote Bersamin again, “The solicitation of reactions from the public about the candidates might be lukewarm because the public may not generally know, through inadequate publication, that this and that fellow who is applying is a scalawag to our community.” As another point of interest, Bersamin also wants to look into corruption allegations into the members of the Judiciary, should he be appointed.


Seniority at the SC

Under the rules of the JBC, the five most senior justices of the SC are automatically nominated for the post of Chief Justice should it be vacant. The most senior SC Justices are Bersamin, Peralta, Antonio Carpio who is the acting Chief Justice, Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas Bernabe. Chief Justice De Castro’s term may well be the shortest term in the high court’s history. However, this signals the return of the seniority culture in the SC that former President Benigno Aquino III disregarded by appointing Sereno. Aquino vowed to block Bongbong Marcos from the executive office in any way that he can.