CHIEF Justice Diosdado Peralta yesterday turned emotional when he bid farewell to the Supreme Court that he served for 12 years, first as an associate justice from 2009 to 2019 and then as the top magistrate.
“In a few days, I will be retiring from the Supreme Court, after working for the past half a century – 34 years of which were spent serving in the Judiciary. While I look forward to a slower pace of life with my family, I cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness as I will be leaving the realm of public service and my beloved Supreme Court, which has been my second home for the past 12 years,” Peralta said in his farewell speech in yesterday’s flag-raising ceremony, his last before he retires on March 27, a year ahead of the mandatory retirement age of 70.
“While this occasion is indeed a bittersweet one for me, it still fills me with happiness to be able to address all of you this morning, for what, in all likelihood, will be the last time as Chief Justice,” he added.
Peralta was accompanied by his wife, Court of Appeals Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta, their four children, and his 96-year old mother, Catalina Madarang Peralta.
Peralta remained mum on his reason to leave the Judiciary a year earlier. Instead, he enumerated the achievements of the SC during his watch.
He said almost all the items in the 10-Point Program that he presented when he was appointed as chief justice in 2019 have come into fruition amid the pandemic.
The Judicial and Bar Council, the body tasked by the Constitution to vet nominees and applicants to the judiciary, submitted to Malacañang yesterday the names of three applicants to Peralta’s post, namely, Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ramon Paul Hernando.
President Duterte has 90 days after Peralta’s retirement to choose the new chief justice.
Bernabe, who was appointed to the SC by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is set to retire in May 2022 while Gesmundo will retire in 2026. Hernando is set to retire only in 2036.
Two other senior justices of the SC – Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa – did not submit documents to the JBC for them to be included in the list.
Under the rules, the five most senior SC justices are automatically nominated whenever a vacancy in the chief justice post arises.
Peralta did not mention in his farewell speech the issue on the killings of lawyers in the country.
The Free Legal Assistance Group had earlier said 61 lawyers had been killed since 2016 while four others survived.
Peralta had to Congress to pass legislation calling for the establishment of a Philippine Judicial Marshal Service to protect members of the judiciary.