HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Wednesday said the appointment of Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta as the new Chief Justice “will highlight the intellectual leadership of the Supreme Court.”“He will champion good governance and serve as a beacon of light in maintaining the pristine supremacy of the Constitution,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association.“His loyalty to the Constitution will guide the nation’s leaders and the people in their quest for a better justice system,” Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, added.
The Court’s Public Information Office on Wednesday confirmed Peralta’s appointment as a top magistrate after it received a transmittal letter from the Office of the President designating him as the next Chief Justice.
With two and a half decades of public service, Peralta is the most senior in terms of the number of years of service in the judiciary.
Peralta is also the most senior among the associate justices who applied for the top post in terms of tenure in the 15-member bench.
He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009.
He has been the chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal since August 2018 where he began as a member in 2011.
Peralta, who got all seven votes of the Judicial and Bar Council, will sit as the chief magistrate until he mandatorily retires at the age of 70 on March 27, 2022.
In his public interview, Peralta told the JBC that he felt he deserved to be Chief Justice.
“I’m not a topnotcher, I’m not an honor student… But I think, I was able to compensate with the work that I had as a public prosecutor, as a judge, as an associate justice of the Sandiganbayan, as a presiding justice, associate justice of the Supreme Court, [and] as a lecturer and chairman of several committees,” Peralta said.
When JBC members asked Peralta about the perception that he was arrogant, Peralta said he was kind to his colleagues and staff.
He might be seen as arrogant, he added, because of his passion for his work.
“Friendship ends when it comes to work,” he said. “I am not arrogant.”
The two others endorsed by the Judicial and Bar Council for the top post were Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Andres Reyes Jr.READ: 3 magistrates shortlisted for Chief Justice
Peralta serves as chairman of the Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, dubbed by Bersamin as the mother of all committees.
Peralta also served as the chairman of both the 2014 Bar Examinations and the Special Shari’ah Bar Examinations.
Born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Chief Justice Peralta started his career in government service in 1987 when he was appointed third assistant city fiscal of Laoag City. He was assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office in the City of Manila in 1988 and later became the assistant chief of the Investigation Division of the Office of the City Prosecutor in the early part of 1994.
He joined the Judiciary in September 1994 when he was appointed as presiding judge of Branch 95 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was designated as a special criminal court on heinous crimes and, later, drugs cases. He was promoted to the Sandiganbayan in 2002, and became its Presiding Justice in 2008.
On Jan. 13, 2009, he was named as the 162nd Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He was recognized as the Most Outstanding Public Prosecutor of Manila for the year 1990-1991 by the City of Manila, and the Most Outstanding Public Prosecutor of the City of Manila in 1994 by the Department of Justice. He was also one of the five finalists for Outstanding Public Prosecutor Nationwide, given by the Foundation on Judicial Excellence in 1993.
As a trial court judge, he was awarded a plaque of commendation in 1999 by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Quezon City Chapter for his speedy and scholarly disposition of criminal cases. He was also awarded the 1999 Annual Pillars of the Criminal Justice System Award¸ given on the first founding anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, and in 2001, he was again awarded by the VACC for his continuous and consistent speedy disposition of criminal cases.
At the time he was promoted to the Sandiganbayan, he was able to dispose of 575 of the 600 cases he had inherited as a trial judge.
During his term as associate justice, and later presiding justice, the Sandiganbayan registered the most number of cases decided on the merits because of the innovations he introduced, namely: stipulation on the testimony of witnesses, or adoption of affidavits and statement of witnesses as their direct testimony, subject to cross-examination, which were later adopted by other associate justices of the Sandiganbayan and incorporated in the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases.
His efficiency in case management and advocacy for speedy disposition of cases was again put to test when he became an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 2009 and inherited the most number of cases at about 1,128 judicial and administrative cases.
Peralta is an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law where he, as a working student, graduated in 1979. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Economics from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in October 1974.
Peralta is married to Court of Appeals Associate Justice Fernanda C. Lampas-Peralta, a certified public accountant-lawyer, with whom he has four children: Dorothy, John Christopher, Timothy John, and John Isaac, who are all accomplished musicians.
Among the high-profile decisions Peralta wrote were the June 2019 ruling granting retroactive application of the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance Law, the September 2018 decision requiring mandatory compliance with chain of custody requirements in drug cases, the August 2017 decision allowing plea bargaining in small-time drug cases, and the November 2016 ruling upholding the legality of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
He also favored the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and was among justices who testified against Sereno during the House of Representatives probe on the impeachment complaint against her.
Peralta also voted to uphold the legality of Senator Leila de Lima’s February 2017 arrest, the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and its extensions, and the closure of Boracay Island last year for rehabilitation.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio served as acting top magistrate until his retirement on Oct. 26.
The Party-List Coalition in the House of Representatives on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of Peralta. With Maricel V. Cruz
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