By Rey Panaligan
With the assumption of then Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro as Chief Justice, the membership in the court’s three divisions has been re-organized.
Aside from being the head of the full court, Chief Justice De Castro also heads the court’s first division with Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin as working chairman. The division members are Associate Justices Mariano C. del Castillo, Francis H. Jardeleza, and Noel G. Tijam.
The second division is headed by Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio with Associate Justices Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Benjamin Alfredo S. Caguioa, Andres B. Reyes Jr., and Jose C. Reyes Jr. as members.
The third division is now headed by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta with Associate Justices Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen, Alexander G. Gesmundo, Andres B. Reyes Jr. and Jose C. Reyes Jr. as members.
The two Reyeses are the swing justices to complete the membership of five justices for every division.
At present, there are only 13 incumbent justices in the 15-member SC. The vacant posts for associate justices are those left by De Castro with her promotion as Chief Justice and that left by retired Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires’ who is now the country’s Ombudsman.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) — the constitutional body that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary — has opened the application and nominations for the post left by Martires. It has yet to announce the vacancy left by De Castro as associate justice.
The SC meets as a full court every Tuesday without prejudice to holding special sessions to tackle urgent cases. Its divisions hold sessions Mondays and Wednesdays.