The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Tuesday backed the nomination of acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio for the top judicial post.
The IBP, the mandatory organization of lawyers in the country, nominated Carpio for the position of chief justice, which was left vacant following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is the most senior of all the incumbent justices in the Supreme Court and is most qualified to lead and manage the Supreme Court and the entire Philippine judiciary,” IBP national president Abdiel Dan Fajardo said in a statement.
The IBP, which condemned the ouster of Sereno, asked President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the seniority in the judiciary.
Carpio, along with the four other most senior justices of the Court, were automatically nominated for the chief justice post. They are Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.
Carpio, who was bypassed for the chief justice post in 2010 and in 2012, has said he is not interested in the top judicial post and that he would decline the nomination.
He explained that he does not want to benefit from Sereno’s ouster through a quo warranto proceeding, which he opposed by dissenting from the majority ruling.
Velasco and De Castro, on the other hand, are expected to retire in August and October this year, respectively.
The fourth member in seniority rank, Peralta, still has four years before retirement.
Meanwhile, the Judicial and Bar Council decided to keep the requirements for applicants, including the submission of at least 10 Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.
The failure of Sereno to meet this 10-SALN requirement was among the grounds cited by the high court in ordering her ouster. The Court invalidated her appointment in 2012 due to lack of proven integrity.
In an announcement, the seven-member council tasked to vet nominees to judicial posts listed 24 documentary requirements for nominees and applicants.
Among them are “SALNs for the last 10 years in case of applicants in government service, or for 2017 for those in the private sector.”
The JBC started the search for Sereno’s replacement after the Supreme Court made final its decision ousting her from the top judicial post last week. It set the deadline for nomination and application for July 26.
The 1987 Constitution requires that the chief justice position be filled within 90 days from vacancy or from the finality of the Court ruling last Tuesday, June 19.
This means President Duterte needs to appoint Sereno’s replacement by Sept. 16.
The Constitution also requires the chief justice, just like associate justices of SC, to be a natural-born citizen, to be at least 40 years old, to have experience as the judge or in private law practice for at least 15 years, and to be a person with proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.