Why Teresita de Castro’s appointment as Chief Justice is being criticized

August 27, 2018 - 4:26 PM
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Associate Justice SC Teresita J. Leonardo De- Castro speaks at Congress during the Continuation of hearing on probable cause for impeachement of CHief Justice Lourdes Sereno last January 29, 2018. (STAR/Michael Varcas)

The appointment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro is being criticized because she only has two-months left before retiring and because of her feud with her predecessor Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo Party-list) questioned the appointment since de Castro will turn 70, the compulsory age of retirement, in October 2018.

He argued on twitter that the appointment was made so as to repay de Castro for leading the high court in ousting Sereno, whom de Castro had feuded with and testified against.

A few days before de Castro’s appointment, Alejano and opposition lawmakers Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), Rep. Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao) and Rep. Tom Villarin (Akbayan) filed an impeachment complaint against her and the other justices who voted to remove Sereno for allegedly violating the Constitution.

Kabataan Party-list denounced de Castro’s appointment, saying that her appointment would only serve the administration and its allies in the Marcos family.

De Castro has been slammed for voting in favor of allowing the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and acquitting House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her plunder case.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council confirmed President Rodrigo Dutere’s appointment of the 69-year old de Castro on Saturday afternoon.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that the decision was made on account of de Castro’s seniority.

De Castro’s career in the judiciary

De Castro in May 2018 was nominated to be the next Ombudsman, but turned down the nomination.

After passing the bar in 1973, she worked in the Supreme Court as part of the Office of the Clerk of Court and later became a member of the staff of the former chief justice Fred Ruiz Castro.

She was then appointed to the Sandiganbayan in 1997.

In 2007, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by then-president Arroyo, whom she would later acquit in an important decision.

De Castro in a recent interview said that she will be spending her barely two-month long stay to reorganize the ethical standards committee in the judiciary.

There are two previous chief magistrates who served for the less than a year: Felix Makasiar, who served from July to November 1985 and Pedro Yap, who served from April to June 1988.