President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night said he has chosen a new Supreme Court Chief Justice.
The President, however, declined to name his latest appointee.
“Yes, I have appointed one already. I signed the appointment before I left Manila the other night. I’ve chosen one already… sa Chief Justice,” Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview in Panglao Island, Bohol.
“The office will release the appointment then you will see that there is a name there, which says that si Justice of… huwag na lang. You wait for it, the official announcement.”
Duterte said that seniority was among his considerations in choosing from the list of nominees submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
The new Chief Justice will replace Teresita Leonardo-De Castro who retired in October. She had served as chief magistrate for 41 days following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also confirmed to ABS-CBN News that the President has already made a decision on the next top magistrate.
Menardo said he will inform reporters as soon as the appointment paper is released by the Office of the Executive Secretary.
Gunning for the top judicial post are acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Andres Reyes Jr.
Carpio, 68, is the most senior sitting magistrate in the Supreme Court and is now on his 17th year in the high tribunal.
He has applied for and has been shortlisted for the Chief Justice post twice: in 2010 and in 2012.
Meanwhile, Bersamin, 69, is the most senior SC justice in the judiciary, starting his career as a presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96 in Nov. 1986.