Guevarra rejects nomination to SC associate justice post

 Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has declined his nomination to the post of Supreme Court (SC) associate justice that would be vacated on September 18 with the mandatory retirement at age 70 of Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Guevarra was nominated to the soon-to-be-vacated SC post by retired Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Raoul V. Victorino in a letter to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

In a letter to Victorino, Guevarra expressed his gratitude but he said “it is with utmost regret that I respectfully decline your nomination.”

Guevarra said “it is the dream of many lawyers to reach the pinnacle of their legal career by getting appointed to and serving in the highest court of the land.”

“It is unfortunate, however, that this opportunity has come at a time when my services as Secretary of the Department of Justice are most needed,” he said.

He pointed out that “the government is facing a huge and unprecedented crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is especially during these troubled times that law and order must be preserved and maintained.”

This was the second time Victorino nominated Guevarra, an ex-officio JBC member, to the SC.  The first time was in November last year when Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta left a vacancy as associate justice when he was promoted head of the judiciary on Oct. 23, 2019.  Guevarra declined the nomination.

In his nomination received by the JBC last June 26, Victorino said Guevarra “is a man of justice, a true embodiment and advocate of justice in our Republic….”

The JBC is the constitutional office that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary, Ombudsman, deputy Ombudsman, special prosecutor, and the chairperson and regular members of the Legal Education Board.

It is headed by Chief Justice Peralta.

The 15-member SC now has still one vacancy when Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. retired last May 11.

The JBC had submitted to President Duterte its nominees – Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Ricardo R. Rosario, Japar B. Dimaampao, Priscilla J. Baltazar Padilla, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Ramon A. Cruz,  and Manuel M. Barrios.

Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days from May 11, 2020 to appoint the replacement of retired Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr.