By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged newly-appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro to refrain from participating in all pending politically-charged cases at the Supreme Court to eliminate any doubts and conjectures that her appointment was a mere “reward” for her role in the former chief Maria Lourdes Sereno’s ouster.
“All questions, issues, and doubts surrounding the appointment of Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, particularly with regard to her impartiality, can only be addressed if the newly-appointed chief magistrate refrains from participating in any political case pending before the court,” Drilon said in a statement.
“I encourage her to inhibit from politically-charged cases in order to uphold the integrity of the decision that the Supreme Court may make during her short tenure,” the minority chief said.
Drilon’s call came at the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of De Castro, who is retiring in six weeks, as the new chief justice.
De Castro was one of the five SC justices who testified against Sereno, who was facing an impeachment case, at the House of Representatives earlier this year.
She and six other justices are now facing separate impeachment complaints for granting Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition instead of pushing through the constitutional process of removing Sereno.
Duterte earlier rejected insinuations he chose De Castro to reward her for her participation in Sereno’s ouster, insisting he gave weight to her being the most senior among the justices nominated by the Judicial and Bar Council.
Among the cases pending at the SC is former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, is hearing the electoral protest case.
Also up on the SC’s table is the opposition’s challenge to the President’s decision to withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court.