COVER STORY

Who'll be the next Chief Justice? Meet the five applicants

Get to know the five judges vying for Chief Justice.

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 26) — Two months after the historic ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno, four of her colleagues at the Supreme Court and one regional trial court judge are vying for her former post.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) closed the application period for the next Chief Justice on July 25, with five names in: Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Andres Reyes, Jr., and Davao del Norte trial court Judge Virginia Tehano-Ang.

Aside from their titles, the associate justices has one thing in common: They all voted to unseat Sereno on May 11 and junked her appeal on June 19, permanently removing her from office.

Sereno, the first woman chief justice and the youngest to be appointed at age 52, could have been the country's longest-serving top judge with a two-decade term that would end in 2030. Then President Benigno Aquino III appointed her in 2012.

READ: What's next for ousted Chief Justice Sereno?  

Those in the running to be her replacement, however, are all retiring in five years or less.

All five applicants will undergo comprehensive medical examinations, psychological evaluation, written evaluative examinations, and public interviews.

An applicant should obtain the affirmative vote of at least four JBC members to be considered in the shortlist to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Get to know the five judges contending to be the country's next Chief Justice.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro

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With Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio turning down his nomination as Chief Justice, De Castro is next in the seniority line.

If appointed chief justice, however, the 69-year-old De Castro could only serve for a few months. She will retire on October 8 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed her associate justice in 2007.

De Castro has been serving the government for 45 years. She began as a law clerk at the Supreme Court in 1973 after earning her law degree at the University of the Philippines in 1972.

She also served as state counsel at the Department of Justice in 1978, assistant chief state counsel in 1997, associate justice of the Sandiganbayan in the same year, and presiding justice of the anti-graft court in 2004.

De Castro made headlines last April after trading barbs with Sereno during the oral arguments on the quo warranto petition seeking to unseat Sereno.

Known as the ousted chief justice's nemesis, De Castro had said she does not let emotions get in the way of her work, without admitting her rumored rivalry with the younger justice.

De Castro voted in favor of the following controversial cases under the Duterte administration:

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta

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Among the four associate justices, Peralta would serve longest if appointed chief magistrate.

The 66-year-old justice will retire in March 2022.

Arroyo appointed Peralta to the High Court in 2009.

He began his three-decade public service as a third assistant city fiscal in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte in 1978. This was a year after earning his law degree at the University of the Philippines.

He served as a trial prosecutor in Manila in 1988, and later became the assistant chief of the investigation division of the Manila City prosecutor's office.

In 1994, Peralta was appointed judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95, which specifically handled heinous crimes and drugs cases.

He was appointed associate justice of the Sandiganbayan in 2002 and became presiding justice in 2008.

Peralta was in favor of the following controversial cases under the Duterte administration:

Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin

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Bersamin has been in public service for three decades, beginning in 1986 when he was presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96. Prior to that, he was a private lawyer.

He was Court of Appeals Associate Justice since 2003 before being appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice in 2009.

Like De Castro and Peralta, Bersamin is also an Arroyo appointee.

The 68-year-old justice is retiring in October next year.

Bersamin placed ninth in the 1973 bar examinations after graduating at the University of the East.

He voted in favor of the following controversial cases under the Duterte administration:

Associate Justice Andres Reyes, Jr.

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Reyes is the only Duterte appointee among the justices contending for the post, and the shortest to have served in the Supreme Court. He assumed the associate justice post in 2017. 

The 68-year-old justice is set to retire in May 2020.

He comes from a family of justices. He is the grandson of former Supreme Court Justice Alex Reyes and son of former Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes.

Reyes obtained his law degree at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1978.

Just after a year at the Supreme Court, he joined seven other justices in voting to unseat Sereno.

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Judge Virginia Tehano-Ang

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Tehano-Ang, the only applicant outside the Supreme Court, would serve longest if appointed chief justice.

The 65-year-old judge will retire in 2023.

Not much is known about Tehano-Ang, the presiding judge of the Tagum City, Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court Branch 1.

Reports say Tehano-Ang in September 2014 ordered the arrest of a suspect in the killing of local radio journalist Rogelio "Tata" Butalid in Tagum.