OUTGOING CHIEF. Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta will step down on March 27, 2021, one year ahead of his actual retirement. Three senior Associate Justices have expressed their intent to replace him. (Photo by SC)

MANILA – Three senior magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) have submitted documentary requirements to be considered for the Chief Justice post after Diosdado Peralta retires this month.

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which screens and recommends nominees to the President, said that as of the February 26 deadline, “only three associate justices of the Supreme Court submitted the documentary requirements in support of their nomination for the Chief Justice post."

The three are senior Associate Justices Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Alexander G. Gesmundo and Ramon Paul L. Hernando.

“No other persons applied,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra said no documents were received from Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Caguioa, who were the next most senior in terms of tenure in the high court after Bernabe.

Bernabe is set retire from the service on May 14, 2022 while Peralta’s optional retirement will be effective March 27.

"I couldn’t speculate on the reason. Either (they are) not really interested or unable to complete and submit all the requirements on time," Guevarra said.

Peralta was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte on October 2019, replacing Lucas Bersamin.

In December, Peralta announced his plan to step down from the post one year ahead of his mandatory retirement on March 27, 2022.

Under JBC's rules, the five most senior Associate Justices are automatically nominated for the post. (PNA)