MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) closed on Monday the period for application and nomination for the top judicial post.
Nominees were also given up to the close of office hours to accept their respective endorsements.
Among those who accepted their nominations on the last day were two of the so-called frontrunners: Supreme Court senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Carpio is former Chief Justice Renato Corona's staunchest rival--from the appointment for associate justice to the chief justice post.
He co-founded the influential CVC Law, also known as "The Firm," and is now the officer-in-charge of the high court.
Should he be appointed Chief Justice, Carpio will serve a term of 7 years.
At a speaking engagement last Friday, Carpio said he is willing to face the challenges of the chief justiceship.
"I will not turn down a challenge to lead the judiciary, of course, if I'm given the opportunity," he said.
De Lima may serve for 17 years if appointed
De Lima, meantime, is among the most trusted Cabinet officials of President Aquino.
Incidentally, President Aquino has to appoint the new chief magistrate not later than August 27, De Lima's 53rd birthday.
Should De Lima land the top judicial post, she will be the first lady chief justice of the country.
She will also serve the longest term under the 1987 Constitution--for 17 years.
When she steps down in 2029, only Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will be left of the sitting magistrates of the Supreme Court, depriving the others of their chance to be appointed Chief Justice.
De Lima admits she may not be an acceptable choice for the incumbent justices following her defiance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) they issued on the travel ban against former President Gloria Arroyo in 2011, and for openly criticizing them at the height of the Corona impeachment trial.
She says she is ready for this challenge, and more.
"I'd like to see myself diyan sa CJ nomination as a strong, and, hopefully, an acceptable alternative to the insiders....I really thought very hard on this, that maybe, I could offer myself for this, for such a very crucial position," she said.
De Lima not assured of appointment
Malacañang is keeping a tight lip as to who the President's preference is.
The Palace says De Lima is not assured to bag the post, even if she met with President Aquino before making her decision.
"Ang sinabi lang ni Pangulo is, kung ano ang decision mo, rerespetuhin ko. And so there is no assurance," said Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Meantime, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza has also accepted his nomination, as well as Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Maria Lourdes Sereno of the Supreme Court.
Henares, Chavez decline
Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has declined, citing ongoing reforms in the agency which she intends to follow through.
"Although I am honoured by the faith and confidence reposed upon me by the people who nominated me to the chief justice position, I regret I could not accept the nomination," she said.
Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez has also declined.
He filed a petition with the high court questioning the 2 seats from Congress in the JBC, insisting that the Constitution authorizes only one.
The JBC will make public on Friday the names of Chief Justice candidates who have met the minimum requirements under the law.
The names will be published for at least 10 days to give the public the opportunity to file an opposition to any of the personalities.
Below is the list of 71 nominees and 2 applicants for the post of Chief Justice (as of 7:15 p.m., July 2, 2012)
THOSE WHO ACCEPTED THEIR NOMINATION:
1. SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
2. SC Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro
3. SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr.
4. SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion
5. SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad
6. SC Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
7. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima
8. Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza
9. Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento
10. Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Andres Bautista
11. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa
12. Former De La Salle University Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno
13. Former Ateneo de Manila University Law Dean Cesar Villanueva
14. Former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan
15. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez
16. Former Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora
17. University of the East Law Dean Amado Valdez
18. Atty. Katrina Legarda
19. Vincent Veloso
20. Rafael Morales
21. Vicente Velasquez
22. Manuel Siayngco
23. Soledad Cagampang-De Castro
24. Regional Trial Court Judge Amelia Tria-Infante
25. Ferdinand Jose David Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. Pijao
THOSE WHO DECLINED THEIR NOMINATION:
1. SC Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
2. SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta
3. SC Associate Justice Jose Perez
4. SC Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo
5. SC Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes
6. SC Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe
7. SC Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez
8. Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas
9. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
10. Sen. Franklin Drilon
11. Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz
12. Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes
13. Court of Appeals Justice Magdangal De Leon
14. Cebu-based CA Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles
15. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa
16. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz
17. Former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr.
18. Former Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla
19. Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares
20. Former Sen. Rene Saguisag
21. Former Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
22. Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo
23. Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez
24. Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Roan Libarios
25. Dean Rodolfo Robles
26. Prosecutor Marianito Sasondoncillo
27. Government Chief Negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Marvic Leonen
28. Public Attorneys Office Chief Persida Acosta