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Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe retires on May 15, 2022. If she becomes chief justice, President Rodrigo Duterte may still appoint her successor. But it’s an election year and he will want an ally leading the court.

The third nominee, Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, was not asked about his position on releasing the SALNs of the members of the judiciary, but he is the ponente or author of a recent ruling that says the document should not be a ‘weapon for political vendetta.’

The Judicial and Bar Council interviewed nominees for chief justice on March 13. The public interviews also covered the existence of so-called ‘search warrant factories,’ the judiciary’s backlog of cases, and the high court’s restrictions on the release of magistrates' wealth statements.

First appointed to the Supreme Court in August 2017, Gesmundo is expected to serve as chief justice until November 2026. He is a hardworking magistrate who advocates for reforms in the judiciary, but some of his decisions have shaken heads.

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