Three Supreme Court associate justices have applied for the top job in the tribunal when the position opens up with the early retirement of Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on March 27, 2021,
Cout spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka identified the three aspirants as Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ramon Paul Hernando.
The Judicial and Bar Council, the constitutional office that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary, will start the public interview of the three aspirants on March 10.
Under the rules, the five most senior justices are automatically nominated for chief justice, the most coveted post in the judiciary. However, they must accept their automatic nominations and submit the required documents.
The other two senior justices who did not accept their automatic nominations were Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Bernabe will reach mandatory retirement on May 14, 2022; Gesmundo on Nov. 6, 2026; and Hernando on Aug. 27, 2036.
Late last year, Peralta announced his early retirement or one year ahead of his compulsory retirement at age 70 on March 27, 2022. It was approved by the full Court early this year.