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Carpio acting CJ

Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio is the acting Chief Justice starting today until a permanent head of the Supreme Court and the country’s Judiciary is appointed by President Duterte to fill up the position left by the ousted Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno.

Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days from the date of the vacancy to appoint a replacement from the nominees submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

With Sereno out of the SC, the JBC would have to look for nominees not only for the post of Chief Justice but also for aspirants to fill up the post of associate justice.

But should an outsider is nominated to the SC’s top post and he or she is appointed by the President, there would be no need to nominate and appoint a 15th associate justice of the SC since the membership would be complete with the appointment of a new Chief Justice.

In its decision Friday that ousted Sereno in an 8-6 vote, the SC declared vacant the post of Chief Justice and ordered the JBC – the constitutionally mandated office that accepts, screens, and nominates appointments to the judiciary – “to start the application and nomination process.”

While Sereno’s lawyers had announced they will file a motion to reconsider the SC’s May 11 decision, the High Court had ruled that “the decision is immediately executory without need of further action from the court.”

This means that even if Sereno files her motion for reconsideration, her ouster as Chief Justice and as member of the SC is immediately enforceable.

On top of looking for nominees for Chief Justice, the JBC would also accept applications for the position of associate justice

Occupying the No. 2 slot in the 15-member SC, Carpio had been acting Chief Justice in many instances in the past – when the late Chief Justice Renato C. Corona was convicted in the Senate impeachment trial in 2012 until the appointment of Sereno on the same year, whenever Sereno travelled abroad or on official leave, and when Sereno took an indefinite leave last March 1 until she reported back to work last May 9. (Rey G. Panaligan)