Bersamin: Pick CJ who will not stay more than 5 years

Published March 9, 2019, 4:33 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Jeffrey Damicog

A chief justice shouldn’t be allowed to remain at his post for more than five years.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin (SC PIO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin

This is what Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin pointed out during his speech before members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) during a testimonial dinner held in his honor Friday night.

“If you were to counsel any President in the future, please caution your client not to be appointing one who will last on that bench for more than five years, that is too long,” he told those present at the event which comprised mostly of lawyers and magistrates.

Bersamin, who is set to retirement when he reaches 70 on October 18, 2019, looked back at the period of “turbulence” when former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno faced ouster.

“Those of you who are outside of the Supreme Court will never get to appreciate very well the impact of that period of turbulence,” he said.

“But the turbulence was just like a turbulence that you experience while you are in flight. It will only hit for two seconds and then it is done,” he added.

Sereno was appointed chief justice at the age of 52 back in 2012 by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and could have held the post until she retires on July 2, 2030.

However, Sereno who is seen to be at odds with President Rodrigo Duterte faced ouster after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed before the Supreme Court (SC) a quo warranto petition against her.

The OSG sought before the SC to void Sereno’s 2012 appointment as chief justice for having failed to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) which was one of the requirements set by the JBC.

On May 11, 2018, the SC voted 8-6 to grant the quo warranto petition of the OSG and ousted Sereno.

Duterte subsequently picked for the vacant post the now retired Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.