She did not have to kick her heels long to get the job done. But when she finally got it, Judge Teresita Leonardo-de Castro stared at retirement that was only six weeks away.
President Duterte had already chosen De Castro as the new Chief Justice, even before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) had presented him with his shortlist for the highest position of the Supreme Court on Friday.
A source of knowledge of the president's decision told the investigator on Saturday that Duterte emphasized the seniority of De Castro in the Supreme Court.
"[The President] looked at [the] credentials [of the three candidates] and gave weight to seniority, "said the source.
The Castro – the first of the five magistrates who testified against the deposed chief judge Maria Lourdes Sereno in the committee for hearing the accusation of charges against her in the House of Representatives – held Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.
All three were appointed as members of the Supreme Court by former president and now as speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Malacañang greeted the selection of De Castro a few minutes after it was announced by Minister of Justice, Menardo Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the JBC.
"Bravo! Best choice for Chief Justice," said president spokesman Harry Roque. "She has infinitely more experience than the ex-Chief Justice."
Guevarra told the reporters that he was informed on Saturday that the president's choice was "publicly announced by Special Assistant Bong Go."
He said that the formal appointment Tuesday would be announced by executive secretary Salvador Medialdea. Monday is a public holiday.
Shortest in SC history
When De Castro accepts his office on Tuesday, succeeding Sereno, she will serve as Chief Justice for 41 days because she will reach the mandatory pension age of 70 on 8 October. She was appointed a member of the Supreme Court on 4 December 2007.
Her term as top magistrate is also the shortest in the history of the country and surpasses the previous record of 75 days of Chief Justice Pedro Yap, which served from April 18 to June 30, 1988.
"Her appointment as Chief Justice is an appropriate conclusion to her illustrious career in both the [Department of Justice, or DOJ] and the judiciary, "Guevarra said.
The Castro is expected on Tuesday to deal with the regular oral arguments of the high court and banc about the petition, in which the validity of the withdrawal of Mr. Duterte from the Rome Statute established by the International Criminal Court is disputed.
The human rights group lawyers of the National Union of People's Advocates (NUPL) said she hoped that De Castro would restore public confidence in the highest court in the country and express doubts about her independence and impartiality.
"The new Chief Justice will have to credibly address unimpeded views about its independence and impartiality, and we need a leader who inspires and demands respect and admiration," said NUPL president Edre Olalia.
The Castro's selection as the country's second female Chief Justice came two days after a group of opposition conference officials filed a suit against her, Peralta, Bersamin and four other judges who voted to oust Sereno on 10 May via a quo warrantopost.
But Advocate General Jose Calida, who filed the case against Sereno, said that De Castro and the others should not worry because the charges "will not see the light of day".
Following the accusations of the judges, Calida's quo warranto Sereno accused a lack of integrity due to its alleged failure to fully declare its statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN & # 39; s), and for alleged tax returns. and unauthorized expenses.
Sereno sought the inhibition of De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin and Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza from the case, but they refused to do so.
In the earlier testimony of De Castro – also the first by a seated court of the Supreme Court in a conference investigation – she accused Sereno of "undermining" the high tribunal by issuing several orders that did not reflect the consensus of the full court.
It was the second time that De Castro was on the shortlist for the post of the highest magistrate.
In 2012 she also competed with the function, along with acting Supreme Court Chief Judge Jose Antonio Carpio and a number of others, including Sereno – then the most youthful judge of the High Court – who eventually got the nod from former President Benigno Aquino III and the first female Chief Justice of the country.
Prior to the appointment of De Castro for the Supreme Court in 2007, the graduate political science at the University of Philippines (UP) served as presiding judge of the antigraft court Sandiganbayan from December 15, 2004.
She is a consistent scholar; she graduated cum laude from UP in 1968 and completed law at the top four of her class in 1972, also at the state university.
The career of the Castro in public service began on February 19, 1973, when she joined the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
From January 1975 to November 1978 she was a legal-legal assistant and member of the staff of the late chief judge Fred Ruiz Castro.
In December 1978 she moved to the DOJ, where she worked as state council 1 and in 1997 reached the rankings to become assistant chief state governor.
De Castro was chairman of the Sandiganbayan special division that condemned former president Joseph Estrada for pillaging and sentenced him to reclaim perpetua on 12 September 2007. However, Estrada never spent a day behind bars when he received the pardon of his successor, Arroyo.
In July 2016 she voted for the release of Arroyo and the dismissal of the plunder charges filed against her by the Aquino government in connection with the alleged misuse of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
De Castro wrote a 2008 ruling in which Arroyo's power as president was respected to invoke the privilege of executive power in Senate's investigation of its alleged involvement in a failed $ 329 million broadband deal with Chinese telecom ZTE Corp.
She was also one of the judges who in the same year voted different from the ruling that declared the Memorandum of Understanding on the ancestral domain between the Arroyo government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as illegal and unconstitutional.
In April 2010, less than a month before the presidential election, De Castro was among the judges who had chosen to allow Arroyo, whose term ended on June 30 of that year, to appoint the successor of the resigning chief judge Reynato Puno, insist that the judiciary should be exempted from the election ban.
Arroyo then appointed the late Supreme Judge Renato Corona in May 2010, who was dismissed in 2012 for non-disclosure of his foreign deposits in his SALN.
In November 2016 De Castro was also one of the nine judges of the Supreme Court who rejected the petition of military lawyers who protested against the funeral of Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani. -WITH A REPORT BY ANA ROA, RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 hours and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.