Duterte: I have chosen new chief justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — A new chief justice may be declared soon.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the revelation Tuesday night in a media briefing after the inauguration of the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.

When asked if he had received the shortlist for the position, Duterte replied, "Yes. I have appointed one already. I signed the appointment before I left... I have chosen one already."

The President did not reveal who he chose, saying, "The office will release the appointment, then you will see that there is the name there."

Duterte, however, revealed that seniority was among the things he considered in making his decision but did not go beyond that.

All five Supreme Court magistrates who applied for the chief justice post landed on the shortlist submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Andres Reyes Jr. are vying for the post vacated by Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro who retired on October 10 after a 40-day stint.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that screens applicants to the judiciary, confirmed this on November 23.

He said the JBC, after a closed-door panel interview, voted in favor of Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Andres Reyes Jr. All of them got six votes each from the JBC except for junior Justice Reyes who got five votes.

They needed the vote of at least four JBC members to be placed on the shortlist.

This is the second time that Duterte will be appointing a chief justice. He earlier chose Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro despite her looming retirement. She left the post vacant again on October 10 after a 40-day stint.

De Castro replaced Maria Lourdes Sereno who was ousted by the Supreme Court for her failure to file her complete statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Carpio, who has has repeatedly criticized the administration's soft stance on the South China Sea dispute, now leads the High Court in an acting capacity being the most senior justice. Duterte earlier said he chose De Castro since she was the most senior among the three justices in the shortlist. When asked last October 9 if he would appoint Carpio for the same reason, Duterte only said "I will decide when I cross the bridge."

CNN Philippines senior digital producers Pia Garcia and Eimor Santos contributed to this story.