After 18 months of serving as the highest justice in the Supreme Court (SC), Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta will be retiring early on March 26. His fellow justices honored him today through a retirement ceremony held at the SC, which had been his second home since 2009.
In the hybrid ceremony (mixed virtual and physical gathering), associate justices shared their experiences working with the outgoing chief justice, and presented him with tokens and memorabilia to honor his decades-long public service career.
CJ Peralta was also given the Jose Abad Santos Award for his “exceptional honor, wisdom and courage in selfless pursuit of truth and justice.” (Read: UP Law Condemns PNP’s Attacks Against Filipino Lawyers)
With CJ Peralta’s retirement comes the job of looking for his successor. As of writing, there are just three justices shortlisted, and President Rodrigo Duterte has 90 days to choose who will be seated for the highest position in the SC. Here’s what we know so far about the three candidates.
Candidates for Chief Justice: Hon. Alexander Gesmundo
Hon. Alexander Gesmundo was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 2017, after more than a decade of serving as an Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan. He is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law. In 1985, he entered government service by working as a Trial Attorney at the Office of the Solicitor General, where he was awarded Most Outstanding Solicitor in 1998.
At the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Gesmundo is the chairperson of the Technical Working Group for the Revision of the Law Student Practice Rule, and the Vice-Chairperson of the “Special Committee for the Rules of Procedure for Admiralty Cases, Special Committee for the Rules on Inspection (under the Philippine Competition Act), the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the Special Committee on the Rules of Procedure in Election Contests before the First Level Courts.”
Candidates for Chief Justice: Hon. Ramon Paul Hernando
Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Literature. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the San Beda University in 1990, and has been in government service since 1991 where he first served as a Confidential Assistant for the office of Supreme Court Justice Edgardo L. Paras. In 2010, he was promoted to an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals; and eight years after joined the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice. (Read: The World’s Reactions to Duterte’s Anti-Terror Law)
Aside from being an Associate Justice, Hernando also works as a law professor for San Beda College of Law, Ateneo de Manila School of Law, UST Faculty of Civil Law, FEU Institute of Law, San Sebastian College of Law, Angeles University Foundation School of Law (Angeles City), University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance (Cebu City) and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan College of Law (Cagayan de Oro City), where he teaches Civil Law, Remedial Law, and Commercial Law.
Candidates for Chief Justice: Hon. Estela Perlas-Bernabe
Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe is the most senior of all the candidates for the next Chief Justice. In 2011, she was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, with her replacing retired Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. Before this, she was a Justice at the Court of Appeals.
Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe had a stellar education— graduated magna cum laude from the St. Paul College Manila, and salutatorian from the Ateneo College of Law. Now, she teaches Practice Court and Evidence to law students from her alma mater.
She is also a decorated legal practitioner, having been awarded the “Court of Appeals Award for Exemplary Performance,” “Huwaran Anak ng Bulakanand Gat Marcelo H. del Pilar Awards,” and “CA Award of Recognition for Outstanding Performance in Case Disposition,” among others.