MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Court of Appeals magistrate Ricardo Rosario as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Malacañang confirmed Thursday.
Rosario and 12 others had vied for the post vacated upon the retirement of Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr. last September.
Duterte signed Rosario's appointment on Thursday, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"As the newest member of the High Court, we are confident that Justice Rosario would advocate judicial independence, uphold the rule of law, and continue the reforms in our court processes," Roque said in a statement.
"We wish Justice Rosario all the best in his new assignment at the SC," he added.
Rosario in 2018 also applied for the post.
In an interview then with the Judicial and Bar Council, Rosario was asked about his views on the drug war, specifically a Supreme Court ruling that acquitted a drug suspect for failure of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to conduct a physical inventory of the seized shabu in front of the accused and 3 independent representatives from the media, the justice department and an elected official, as required by law.
The law has since been amended in 2013 reducing the number of independent representatives to 2.
Rosario told the JBC that, for him, there was no need for arresting officers to strictly comply with the physical inventory requirement for “as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the drugs taken” is preserved, applying the presumption of regularity in the performance of functions of law enforcement officers.
He warned: “It could undermine the campaign of the government to implement existing drug laws.”
The JBC interview took place a few months after the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.
Asked about the impact of the ouster on the judiciary, Rosario said there were fears the credibility of the SC would be eroded as a result of the decision but that perception appears to have died down.
“In my observation, most of the people think it was only an internal matter or administrative proceeding that pertained to nomination, selection and appointment of a justice in the Supreme Court,” he said.
“It did not actually affect the integrity of the Supreme Court. No reason to doubt judicial independence of members of high tribunal,” he added.
Rosario was also asked about his position on the visitorial powers of representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, in reference to the shutdown of Boracay Island.
He said the right granted to DENR representatives to inspect premises of factories and investigate is constitutional, premised on the state’s police power which will prevail over the right to privacy.
Rosario obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1983 and passed the Bar Exams in 1984.
He worked as legal officer at the National Bureau of Investigation, senior corporate attorney at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) before being appointed as senior assistant city prosecutor in Quezon City in 1994.
In 1997, he was appointed metropolitan trial court judge in Manila and later as regional trial court judge in Makati. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals in September 2005.
Born in October 1958, Rosario still has 8 years to serve in the high court until his retirement at the age of 70.