What to expect from the new Chief Justice

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    ‘Chief Justice Gesmundo comes at a time when the Supreme Court is in the process of studying and deciding on various important cases – issues that have a serious and direct bearing on the lives of all Filipinos.’

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Alexander G. Gesmundo as Chief Justice, replacing former Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, who has retired early.

    In appointing Gesmundo, the President gave due respect to the tradition in the judiciary that one of five most senior associate justices should take the helm of the High Tribunal.

    The five were Gesmundo, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, but the last two declined the nomination.

    The whole process of short-listing, vetting and selecting, conducting public interviews and finally, submitting the final list of aspirants to the President by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has been low-key and smooth all the way.

    The JBC, according to the Constitution, is the body that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary, including the position of Chief Justice. The government and the JBC realized their folly and lack of caution in the past, which unfortunately led to the appointment of an unqualified aspirant in the past.

    Chief Justice Gesmundo comes at a time when the Supreme Court is in the process of studying and deciding on various important cases — issues that have a serious and direct bearing on the lives of all Filipinos. One of these cases is the petition to declare unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque cited the appointment of Gesmundo in a press briefing on Monday, saying the Palace “believes that the new Chief Justice will uphold judicial excellence and independence, will commit to the rule of law, and will lead reforms that will uphold the integrity and professionalism of the judiciary.”

    Chief Justice Gesmundo, the fourth chief justice appointed by Duterte during his presidency, is expected to serve until November 2026. He was Sandiganbayan associate justice before his appointment to the Supreme Court.

    His long experience in the judiciary and the judicial wisdom that he had accumulated through the years should serve Gesmundo in good stead as the nation’s Chief Justice.