By Rey Panaligan
Whether or not he is appointed Chief Justice, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio is not wavering on his advocacy on the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio, who is now acting Chief Justice with the retirement of Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro last October 10, considered his advocacy more important than being appointed head of the judiciary.
“The President has the prerogative to appoint whoever he wants and I will respect that. But that will not stop me from continuing my advocacy because for me this is more important than anything else,” he stressed.
Carpio was one of four senior SC justices who accepted their automatic nominations to the Chief Justice post. The three other senior justices are Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, and that Estela M. Perlas Bernabe.
Another senior justice, Mariano C. del Castillo, declined his automatic nomination because of his additional work as chair of the 2018 bar examinations committee, among other reasons.
Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. has also accepted the recommendation for him to be Chief Justice.
On the West Philippine Sea, Carpio had earlier called on President Duterte to file a new protest before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against the incidents of harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese Coast Guard in the Scarborough Shoal.
He suggested that the Philippine government should seek damages from China in view of the PCA’s 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines on the shoal.
When Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno was ousted by the SC last June, Carpio declined his nomination to the Chief Justice post. It was his position that he should not benefit from the vacancy. He voted against Sereno’s ouster via a quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General.
With his turning down the nomination, the President appointed De Castro who, last August, was next to Carpio in the seniority rank.