De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin in Chief Justice shortlist

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 24) — The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte three nominees for Chief Justice.

They are Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin, the Supreme Court announced in a statement Friday. De Castro and Peralta each received six votes while Bersamin got five votes. The JBC screens applicants to the judiciary.

The only Duterte appointee, Associate Justice Andres Reyes, was not in the list, as well as Davao del Norte trial court Judge Virginia Tehano-Ang, the only applicant outside the Supreme Court.

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

Among those in the shortlist, 66-year-old Peralta would serve longest if appointed chief magistrate. De Castro will retire on October 8, Bersamin in October next year, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

They were all appointed to the associate justice post by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The three nominees all voted to unseat Maria Lourdes Sereno on May 11 and junked her appeal on June 19, permanently removing her from office.

Lagman: Withdraw shortlist

Opposition lawmakers on Thursday filed impeachment complaints against them and sought for their disqualification from the chief justice race. Four other justices who voted against Sereno were slapped with impeachment charges, which have been lodged before the House of Representatives.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the JBC, said the impeachment complaints cannot disqualify any of the nominees since they are "not yet considered [impeachment cases]."

He said the complaints have not been acted upon by the House Committee on Justice, which hears cases against impeachable officials.

But Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of those who filed the impeachment complaint, said this argument is "flawed."

"Upon filing of the said impeachment complaints and before they are dismissed, said impeachment complaints are deemed pending just like unresolved criminal and administrative cases," Lagman said in a statement.

He called on the JBC to "withdraw momentarily the shortlist and re-open the filing of applications for the position of chief justice" amid the impeachment raps against its nominees.

SALN issues

The JBC was initially set to deliberate earlier this week but reset it so they could have more time to scrutinize documents submitted by the applicants, including their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN).

During the public interview, Bersamin and Peralta defended the multimillion-peso increase in their wealth, attributing them to allowances they have received for holding certain positions in the government and the increases in their wives' earnings.

SALN issues led to the ouster of the country's last two chief magistrates – the late Renato Corona and Sereno.

Duterte is expected to choose the next Chief Justice before September 16 – 90 days after the position was declared vacant. The most senior associate justice, Antonio Carpio, has taken over in an acting capacity since Sereno's historic ouster.

Sereno was the first Chief Justice to be ousted by the High Court. She is also the first woman chief justice and the youngest to be appointed at age 52. She could have been the country's longest-serving Chief Justice with a two-decade term that would end in 2030.

CNN Philippines' AC Nicholls contributed to this report.