By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Monday said she was happy and relieved to know that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has accepted the nomination to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
De Lima said that amid issues of great national importance that urge members of the judiciary to preserve their independence and to do their part in upholding the rule of law and the country’s democracy, news of Carpio’s acceptance of his nomination as the next SC chief is a welcome relief.
“While it is indubitable that he possesses the legal acumen and reasoning prowess to merit appointment to the highest judicial post in the country, it is his integrity and active patriotism that I respect the most,” said de Lima who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Custodial Center over drug charges.
“He has been passionately, consistently, and proactively defending our sovereignty against foreign incursions – physical, economic, political and otherwise,” de Lima said.
De Lima said Carpio has shown that being a patriot is not inconsistent with maintaining the dignity and neutrality of a magistrate.
Carpio, she said, was able to show that defending and advocating for the preservation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are “essential aspects of the solemn duty that every public official undertakes whenever they take the oath to protect the Constitution and our system of government.”
“I sincerely believe that Justice Carpio is the leader that the Judiciary deserves, and the champion of the Rule of Law that the Filipino people need,” said de Lima.
Carpio, who had been appointed acting chief justice following the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, had earlier formally accepted his nomination as the next chief justice following the retirement of Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.
If appointed, Carpio will serve the SC as its top magistrate for one year. Traditionally, senior justices of the high court are automatically nominated for chief justice.
The senior magistrate had been at loggerheads with President Rodrigo Duterte particularly on the issue of fighting for the country’s claim on the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio had said he is aware that his stand on the West Philippine Sea could cost him his bid for the SC’s top post but stressed it is more significant than his possible appointment.