Duterte defends appointment of de Castro as CJ
By Jelly Musico
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday defended his decision to appoint Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro as new Chief Justice.
“Kung sino yun nauna na pumasok, s’ya yun unang ma-promote and that would go for everybody (Whoever comes first, she will be the first to get the promotion),” Duterte said in a media interview after leading the commemorative rites honoring the national heroes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
“And it will be the same for all justices, not only de Castro. Lahat ‘yan sila (all of them). Unless of course, they refuse or maybe they would opt to retire. It’s the same in the military,” he added.
Duterte, former mayor of Davao City for 23 years before his overwhelming victory in the 2016 presidential polls, explained that he personally does not know de Castro.
“I’m not familiar with any of them actually. Wala ako kalilala na justice na personal (I don’t know personally any justice. Truthfully, I have never talked to anyone there. They are all strangers to me. Remember, hindi naman ako practitioner ng Manila (I’m not a practitioner in Manila),” he said.
When asked to comment on opposition lawmaker Rep. Gary Alejano’s remark that the appointment was a “reward” to de Castro, Duterte said: “I have yet to hear those guys state something without malice”.
“They always say the worst… People, kagaya nila (like them), just best when they condemn. And they have nothing to show for their time there except to blabber their mouth,” he added.
Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed over the weekend that Duterte has appointed de Castro to replace ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
Guevarra said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will release the formal appointment of de Castro on Tuesday.
De Castro was appointed as SC justice in December 2007 by former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
She bested the two other nominees from the SC — Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.
Duterte explained he did not appoint Associate Justice and Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio because the latter turned down the automatic nomination.
“He stated in public that he is not going to accept it. So why force a person to accept a task that he does not want. This is a free country,” Duterte told the media.
Last Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has upheld “judicial professionalism” by appointing most senior aspirants.
Roque also said de Castro had “infinitely more experience than the ex-CJ”. (PNA)