New Chief Justice De Castro must prove 'independence, impartiality'

MANILA, Philippines – Newly-named Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro faces the challenge of proving her independence and impartiality, a lawyers' group said on Saturday, August 25.

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement that De Castro "will have to credibly address uncomplimentary views about her independence and impartiality."

"We need a leader who inspires and who commands respect and admiration. The bar, bench and the public need to trust the system and its symbols amidst the trials and tribulations," the NUPL added.

President Rodrigo Duterte picked De Castro over fellow SC Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta to head the High Court on Saturday, August 25.

De Castro was among the 8 SC associate justices who voted for the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno through a quo warranto petition.

Opposition group Tindig Pilipinas criticized De Castro's appointment, claiming it was a "concession" for Sereno's ouster.

In a Facebook post, the group said the appointment was a "reflection of how Duterte played with the country's justice system and his propensity to use government posts as a reward for his loyal followers." 

Tindig Pilipinas also pointed out that De Castro will only be serving for two months as she was due to retire in October.

"Thus, exiting from the judiciary being a Chief Justice, with all its perks and privileges, and for having served the court the 'shortest' period on the record," it said.  –