By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) held on Friday its retirement ceremony for Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro who bows out of public service next week as head of the judiciary.
On October 10, De Castro will turn 70, the compulsory retirement age for members of the judiciary.
She was appointed Chief Justice by President Duterte on Aug. 25, 2018. She took over the post vacated by Maria Lourdes Sereno whose appointment as Chief Justice was nullified by the SC in a quo warranto petition.
The retiring Chief Justice has served the government for 45 years both in its executive and judicial branches. She joined the SC as associate justice on Dec. 4, 2007.
Her public service career started in 1973 when she was appointed law clerk at the SC’s Office of the Clerk of Court and occupied positions as legal/judicial assistant and member of the technical staff of the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro.
She transferred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 1978 and served as state counsel and later as assistant chief state counsel.
From 1988 to 1997, she was designated as one of the international and peace negotiators of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and President Fidel V. Ramos who awarded her the Presidential Medal of Merit.
On Sept. 23, 1997, De Castro was appointed Sandiganbayan associate justice. After seven years, she was promoted presiding justice of the anti-graft court until 2007 when she was promoted to the SC.
At the SC, De Castro was the former working chairperson of the court’s first division and later as head of the third division before her promotion as Chief Justice.
She is the chairperson of the Management Committee of the Judicial Reform Support Project, working vice-chairperson of the Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards and of the Halls of Justice Coordinating Committee, chairperson of the Committee on Gender Responsiveness in the Judiciary, the Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns, the Special Committee to Draft Rules on Sexual Harassment in the Judiciary, and member of the Supreme Court Internal Rules Committee.
During yesterday’s retirement ceremony, there was the traditional presentation of tokens.
The SC flag was presented by Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr.; Philippine Flag, Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr.; SC seal, Justice Noel G. Tijam; judicial robe; Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa; brass shingle, Justice Francis H. Jardeleza; gavel, Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen; SC pen and time piece, Justice Estela M. Perlas Bernabe; book of decision and the Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos award, Justice Mariano C. del Castillo; and statuette of judicial excellence, Justice Diosdado M. Peralta.
The reading and presentation of the plaque of recognition was done by Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio.
Chief Justice De Castro unveiled her portrait that would be displaced in the SC hall.
At press time, Carpio was yet to deliver the SC message, while De Castro has yet to give her response.
After the ceremony, a retirement dinner will be held at the historic landmark Manila Hotel.