On his first day as Chief Justice, top magistrate Lucas Bersamin quickly offered the peace pipe to his colleagues even as he called himself “an accidental” appointee.
Bersamin edged other heavyweight contenders for the top post in the Supreme Court, including the most Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
But Bersamin asked his colleagues to help and support him in his new task during yesterday’s first flag-raising ceremony with him as the head of the judiciary.
Bersamin addressed his colleagues, saying: “I know you have expected maybe another individual to be appointed to this office. I am not apologizing for myself. I’m not apologizing for the president. I am here because I was appointed. So that should stop all speculations.”
Before his appointment of Bersamin, President Rodrigo Duterte said he adhered to the tradition of “seniority” when he named Chief Justice Teresita De Castro. She retired on 10 October.
Carpio was the most senior at the SC and had the longest experience at the high tribunal which made him the shoo-in before Bersamin’s surprise appointment.
“I am an accidental chief justice but that is not a statement of apology. I do not apologize to anyone for having been appointed. That is the wisdom of a president who is the appointing power,” the Chief Justice added.
Duterte and Carpio do not see eye to eye on the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China.
Malacañang earlier said the justice’s stand had no effect on his chances for the post.
The Palace said Carpio’s earlier reluctance to accept his nomination cost him the slot.
Bersamin was the second most senior justice at the Supreme Court. He has 32 years of experience as he was appointed as a trial court judge in 1986.
He is the 25th chief justice of the country.
“Whoever sits in the chair should respect the office and respect those of the rest of the country. I’m happy I am joined this morning by my colleagues in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bersamin appointed Court Administrator and associate justice candidate Jose Midas Marquez as spokesperson of the Supreme Court.
Marquez previously served as court administrator, spokesperson, chief of the SC’s PIO and chief of staff of the Office of the Chief Justice during the term of retired chief justice Reynato Puno.
He was also the spokesperson during the time of the late former chief justice Renato Corona.