Chief Justice Peralta retiring a year early

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 1) — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta will bow out of the Supreme Court on March 27, 2021 — a year earlier than his supposed retirement.

Peralta sent a letter to his fellow magistrates signifying his intention to retire on his 69th birthday, the high court’s public information office said after an en banc session on Tuesday.

“I have asked him (Peralta) personally and he confirmed it. The Chief Justice did not elaborate further but said that he will make a formal announcement in due time,” Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Hosaka said in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Peralta as top magistrate in October 2019. He is entitled to the post for two years and five months or until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in March 2022.

With Peralta’s early retirement, Duterte will again choose the next Chief Justice. Peralta was the third to be appointed by the President after the historic ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was slated to serve a two-decade term until 2030.

Duterte had lashed out at Sereno for expressing concern over his war on drugs. Peralta, along with his predecessors Teresita Leonardo De Castro and Lucas Bersamin, voted to unseat Sereno for failing to file some of her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN.

The next most senior to Peralta is Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III to the Supreme Court in 2011. She is followed by fellow Aquino appointees, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

The other 10 justices are all Duterte appointees.

The Peralta court is scheduled to hold oral arguments on the highly contested Anti-Terrorism Act in January 2021. There are 37 petitions seeking to junk the new measure, making it the most challenged Philippine law in recent history.

Also pending in the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, is the poll protest filed by former senator and losing candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.