Philippine Daily Inquirer
Seniority should be considered in choosing next CJ—Leonen
Seniority is a “marker of experience” and should be considered in choosing the next Chief Justice, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said on Thursday.
“Seniority is a marker of something. Seniority is a marker of experience. It is also a marker of a person who knows his or her colleagues,” Leonen said in an interview with television station ANC’s Headstart on Thursday.
“If you stay in the court longer, you become more familiar with the people that you work with, including the staff, chief of offices, the judges of lower courts, the appellate courts. So seniority, I think, is a marker. It is not, per se, the only requirement, but seniority as a marker of something like experience,” Leonen said.
Leonen said he was not as- piring for the position left vacant by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted by her colleagues through a quo warranto petition.
Sort of attitude
“The work of a Chief Justice requires some sort of capacity or an attitude that right now I cannot imagine myself doing,” he reasoned.
“You have to be able to find a middle ground. You have to have the gravitas to be able to bring people to listen to each other and then later on, come out with a decision,” said Leonen, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III who has been with the Supreme Court for almost six years.
“It is normal if you are new in a court, a collegiate court, that you will feel threatened if somebody disagrees with you,” he said.
Excel ‘10 times more’
Leonen also said a Chief Justice should excel “10 times more than [his or her] colleagues” and be the negotiator, “the person that will find the middle ground” in every position.
Under the prevailing selection system, five of the most senior justices of the high court are automatically nominated for the Chief Justice post.
Leonen is encouraging the senior justices to accept the nomination and vie for the position.
“[Acting Chief] Justice [Antonio] Carpio has been there for more than a decade. [Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-Castro] Tess de Castro, I’ve seen her work, I’ve seen the way that she works, she is a work horse, she has a lot of good ideas,” Leonen said.
“Justice [Diosdado] Dado Peralta, one of the leading lights for continuous trials, speedy trials, and he gets people to work together. Justice [Lucas] Luke Bersamin is also somebody that can get [along] well with the colleagues, has had the experience of working from the lower court to the [high] court,” he added.
The deadline for the submission of nomination for the Chief Justice post is on July 26.