Four associate justices of the Supreme Court have accepted their nomination to the most coveted post in the judiciary, which Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin will vacate when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Oct. 18.
But Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declined his automatic nomination because he would be reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 eight days after the vacancy occurs.
“I am declining because there are only eight days left from the vacancy to my compulsory retirement,” Carpio said.
Vying for the judiciary’s top post are Associate Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Associate Justices Andres Reyes Jr., and Jose Reyes Jr.
Peralta and Bernabe are among the five justices who have been automatically nominated, while Justice Andres Reyes was nominated for the position by retired Associate Justice Jose Perez and retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Sesinando Villon.
Associate Justices Benjamin Caguiao and Marvic Mario Victor F. Leon also declined their endorsement.
Peralta, who was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the high court in 2009, and Bernabe, who was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2011, are both 67 years old.
Peralta was born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, and started his career in the government service in 1987 when he was appointed Third Assistant City Fiscal of Laoag City.
Bernabe started her tenure at the judiciary as a technical assistant in the office of then Justice Lorenzo Relova upon her graduation from the Ateneo College of Law and after 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 after she was appointed Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of the Makati City, Branch 66.
In 2000, she was promoted to the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 142. She was promoted to the CA on March 15, 2004.
Leonen said: “For now, in my considered judgment, my decision is the right thing to do for myself, this Court and this country.”
Nonetheless, Leonen pledged to support the leadership of whoever is appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the successor of Bersamin.
“I will be able to do what I do best for our people in my current position at this time,” he said.
Reyes, who has accepted his nomination, was a trial judge from 1987 until 1999, when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals.
On Feb. 10, 2010, he was appointed presiding justice of the appellate court until he was appointed to the high court in 2017 by President Duterte.
Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr. was a technical assistant to former Chief Justice Felix V. Makasiar until 1978. He was a former judge of the metropolitan trial court in Pasig City and RTC judge until 2003.
He was appointed associate justice in the Court of Appeals in 2003 and served for 15 years.