MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte should not be criticized for choosing Teresita Leonardo-De Castro as the new chief justice, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Sunday.
Pimentel explained that Malacañang followed the necessary procedures in appointing De Castro despite her looming retirement in October.
"She's the most senior and very qualified. We cannot criticize the President for appointing her because the necessary procedures and processes were followed," Pimentel told ANC.
"For as long as you are below 70 you can still be appointed," he added.
The 69-year-old De Castro is the second woman to serve as chief justice. She replaces Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose appointment was invalidated by the Supreme Court last May for failure to fully disclose her wealth.
Pimentel said given De Castro's short stint as head of the Supreme Court, she should "do her best."
"Make known her plans, ideas on how to improve the delivery of justice in our country," he said.
"I think 40 plus days would be too short a time to implement a national program reforming the entire judiciary so she would just be left with advocacies, leading ideas pointing to the direction that she wants the judiciary to go to," he added.
Pimentel also dismissed allegations that De Castro's appointment has something to do with the election protest filed by defeated vice presidential bet, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
"The protest, I think is still at a pilot stage...It has nothing to do with the electoral protest," he said.
De Castro assumes leadership of the top court as it hears Marcos' protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.