Leonen declines nomination for chief justice

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen declined his automatic nomination to be the Philippines' next chief justice, replacing Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin who is retiring on October 18.

"I confirm that I have declined the nomination of the Court en banc to the position of chief justice vice Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin," Leonen said in a statement sent through SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka on Monday, August 19.

Leonen is among the 5 most senior justices who are automatically nominated for the post. The other 4 are Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas Bernabe, and Benjamin Caguioa.

Carpio is still included in the list despite his own retirement on October 26, or only around a week after Bersamin's retirement.

Hosaka said Carpio, Peralta, Bernabe, and Caguioa have not sent their responses yet. Their deadline to confirm or decline their nominations is on Tuesday, August 20.

Leonen did not provide a reason for declining his nomination.

"For now, in my considered judgement, my decision is the right thing to do for myself, this Court, and this country. I will be able to do what I do best for our people in my current position at this time," he said.

By October when Bersamin and Carpio retire, Leonen would be the 3rd most senior justice provided that either Peralta or Bernabe is named chief justice. If it's a justice more junior than Leonen, he would be bumped to 4th.

The Judicial and Bar Council will start screening applicants for the replacements of Carpio and Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, retiring in September, on September 6, 9, 10, and 11. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.