DUTERTE DEFENDS BERSAMIN’S CHIEF JUSTICE APPOINTMENT
President Rodrigo R. Duterte bared that the most senior among the sitting magistrates, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, “refused the offer” which is why he decided to pick the person “next in rank”. (Presidential Photo)
MANILA — Amid criticism for breaking the judiciary’s seniority tradition, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint Lucas Bersamin as the new Supreme Court Chief Justice, saying his first option rejected his offer.
In a speech in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Duterte bared that the most senior among the sitting magistrates, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, “refused the offer”, which is why he decided to pick the person “next in rank”.
Bersamin is only the third most senior magistrate of the Supreme Court, but is the most senior justice in terms of service in the courts. He has had 32 years of service in the third branch of government.
“Carpio refused the offer. So the next in rank is… Next in rank if you’re good,” Duterte said in Bisaya, referring to Bersamin.
Carpio earlier declined his nomination for top magistrate saying he did not want to “benefit” from the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice after voting against it.
He has also repeatedly pushed for the assertion of the arbitral ruling, which invalidated China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte, meanwhile, criticized Carpio for insisting to push with the arbitral ruling.
“You keep on hankering that you’ll attack the — you do something. What do you want me to do? Arbitration, so I’ll order my military and the police to go there in Palawan and shoot it out?” Duterte asked.
“It will be a massacre. We will not win there. We won’t get anything from it,” he said. (PNA)