3 justices accept nominations for chief justice post

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2018 09:42 AM | Updated as of Jul 26 2018 12:42 PM

MANILA - A day before the period of applications for the vacant Chief Justice position lapses, at least 3 takers have come forward and formally accepted their nominations.

Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, the 5th most senior magistrate of the Supreme Court and one of 8 justices who voted to oust former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, formally informed the Judicial and Bar Council that he was accepting its nomination and that of retired Sandiganbayan Associate Justice and ex-JBC member Raoul Victorino.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, the fourth most senior magistrate of the Supreme Court, and Associate Justice Andres Reyes, Jr., Duterte’s 3rd appointee to the high court, also accepted their nominations. 

The JBC, as per practice, nominated the five most senior SC magistrates for the post vacated by Sereno. Victorino nominated all 14 sitting high court justices. 

Sereno was ousted by her colleagues at the high court on petition for quo warranto. She was found to have failed to faithfully file her annual sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth during her 20-year teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and failed to submit the required 10 SALNs upon her application for Chief Justice in July 2012. 

WHO IS BERSAMIN?

Aside from voting in favor of Sereno's ouster, Bersamin also voted in favor of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).

Bersamin also wrote the high court decision that struck down former President Benigno Aquino's Disbursement Acceleration Program as unconstitutional.

Hailing from Abra, Bersamin, 69, served as a trial court judge and appellate court magistrate prior to his appointment to the SC in 2009.

He served as Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96 beginning November 1986, and was a Court of Appeals Associate Justice prior to being appointed to the high court by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

Bersamin finished law at the University of the East in 1973, and placed 9th in the Bar Examinations of the same year.

He bagged the Judicial Excellence Award for Best Decision both in Civil Law and Criminal Law, which has remained an unprecedented feat.

DECISIONS/PONENCIAS

Among the SC decisions Bersamin authored are the following:

March 2010

Upholding President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s authority to appoint the next Chief Justice, despite 60-day constitutional ban on midnight appointments before presidential elections. Decision stated that the judiciary is not covered by Article 7, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, which solely covers the executive branch.

April 2011

Upholding a Sandiganbayan decision that declared businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr.'s 20-percent stake, representing 20-million shares in San Miguel Corporation(SMC), was not illegally acquired using ill-gotten wealth that rightfully belonged to farmers. 

April 2013

Junking former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr's plea to include key Maguindanao massacre prosecution witness Kenny Dalandag in the criminal information for murder for the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao carnage that led to the death of 58 people. 

July 2014

Striking down as unconstitutional the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the budget department's Circular No. 541 that authorized the withdrawal of unobligated and unutilized funds to fund the program. The decision also stated that government officials (authors, proponents, implementors of DAP) may be held liable for the release of public funds under the stimulus package. 

January 2015

Nullified and voided an order issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that designated the Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairman to sit in the board of trustees/directors of the Government.

 October 2015

Junked business tycoon Lucio Tan's Fortune Tobacco Corporation’s claim for tax credit or tax refund for reportedly erroneously collected taxes in 2004 amounting to over P219 million. 

July 2016 

Junked plunder case vs former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over P366-million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office confidential and intelligence funds, ruling that the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present evidence to prove the amassment, accumulation of acquisition of ill-gotten wealth not less than P50-million, a requisite for the crime of plunder to rise. 

March 2018

Reversed earlier ruling in favor of over 1,400 flight attendants and stewards of Philippine Airlines (PAL) retrenched by the flag carrier in 1998 as it explained that (1) PAL met all standards in effecting a valid retrenchment; and (2) the retrenched employees were not opposed to the retrenchment program because it understood PAL’s financial troubles but were only questioning the manner and alleged lack of standard in carrying out the retrenchment.

July 2018 

Directed the automatic release of the Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units in the national taxes, and ruled that the “just share” of LGUs must be computed based on all national taxes, and not only on national internal revenue taxes collected by government.

VOTING HISTORY

December 2010
Voted to strike down as unconstitutional President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1, Creating the Truth Commission for limiting its scope only to the previous Arroyo administration thereby violating the equal protection clause in the 1987 Constitution

November 2011
Voted in favor of the distribution of Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita’s 4,915-hectare farmlands to farmer-beneficiaries

March 2016
Voted in favor of the natural-born Filipino citizenship of Senator Grace Poe

November 2016
Voted in favor of the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani 

November 2013
Voted to declare the Priority Development Assistance Fund unconstitutional

December 2017
Voted to uphold the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of Martial law in Mindanao and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

February 2018
Voted to uphold the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s yearlong extension of Martial Law in Mindanao

June 2018 (final decision)

Voted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on petition for quo warranto, ruling that she was ineligible for the post for failure to faithfully file her annual sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth during her 20-year teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and submitting only 3 instead of 10 SALNs upon her application for Chief Justice in July 2012

WHO IS PERALTA? 

Peralta was appointed to the high court by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in January 2009, making him the third Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice to be appointed to the SC. 

He finished his law degree at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law in 1979.

His stint in government began in 1987 as Third Assistant Laoag City Fiscal; he moved to the Manila Prosecutor’s Office in 1988.

Peralta joined the judiciary in 1994 as Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95, a special criminal court on heinous crimes and drugs cases.

He is a recipient of the Judicial Excellence Awards as an outstanding regional trial court judge in 2002. 

On March 28, 2008, he became the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan. 

Peralta is a Sectoral Ulirang Ama Awardee on Law and Judiciary, an award he received in 2006. 

He was a Bar reviewer, professor, lecturer, and resource person in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Remedial Law, and Trial Technique in several universities. 

DECISIONS/PONENCIAS

November 2008

Affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling in November 2008 that found 17 Abu Sayyaf Group members guilty for the kidnapping of hospital personnel in Lamitan, Basilan in 2001. 

June 2012

Upheld the option to purchase entered into by the Commission on Elections and automated election systems provider SMARTMATIC-TIM regarding the purchase of more than 82,000 units of Precinct Count Optical Scan machines to be used in the 2013 national and local automated elections.

May 2014
Junked a petition that sought to lower the penalties imposed on estafa cases under the Revised Penal Code on the basis of inflation. 

February 2015

Junked Philippine Military Academy cadet Aldrin Cudia’s petition challenging his dismissal from the academy

February 2015

Ruled that income derived by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation from its gaming operations such as the operation and licensing of gambling casinos, gaming clubs, and similar amusement establishments, gaming pools and related operations shall not be subjected to corporate income tax.

November 2016

Upheld the legality of the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

VOTING HISTORY

December 2010

Voted to strike down as unconstitutional President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1, Creating the Truth Commission for limiting its scope only to the previous Arroyo administration thereby violating the equal protection clause in the 1987 Constitution. 

November 2011

Voted in favor of the distribution of Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita’s 4,915-hectare farmlands to farmer-beneficiaries. 

January 2016

Voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States 

March 2016

Voted in favor of the natural-born Filipino citizenship of Senator Grace Poe

November 2013

Voted to declare the Priority Development Assistance Fund unconstitutional

June 2018 (final decision)

Voted to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on petition for quo warranto, ruling that she was ineligible for the post for failure to faithfully file her annual sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth during her 20-year teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and submitting only 3 instead of 10 SALNs upon her application for Chief Justice in July 2012. 

WHO IS REYES? 

Reyes, the 2nd most junior SC magistrate, was Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals prior to joining the high court in July 2017. 

He finished law school at the Ateneo De Manila University. 

He served as judge of the Makati Metropolitan Trial Court beginning in 1987, and became a judge at the San Mateo, Rizal Regional Trial Court in 1990. 

Nine years later, he was appointed to the CA.

Reyes is the son of former CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, and grandson of former SC Associate Justice Alex Reyes. 

He penned the SC decision that declared unconstitutional Justice Secretary Leila De Lima’s Department Order No. 41 which barred former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and husband Mike Arroyo from leaving the country in 2011, a ruling that effectively clipped the Department of Justice’s practice of issuing travel halt orders. 

He also junked the bail plea of alleged “pork barrel” scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in one of the plunder cases she is facing before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the scam. 

Reyes voted to uphold Mr. Duterte’s yearlong extension of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. 

He was unable to participate in the original voting upholding martial rule in the southern Philippine region, which took place prior to his appointment to the SC. 

He also voted in favor of the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on petition for quo warranto, a ruling that found Sereno ineligible for the top judicial post for failure to faithfully file her annual sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth during her 20-year teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and submitting only 3 instead of 10 SALNs upon her application for Chief Justice in July 2012. 

Sereno’s ouster, made final in June, rendered the Chief Justice post vacant.

The JBC will accept nominations and applications for the post up to Thursday, July 26.