Duterte names Diosdado Peralta as new Supreme Court Chief Justice

Robie de Guzman   •   October 23, 2019   •   745

Newly-appointed Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte named Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed that Duterte signed Peralta’s appointment paper on Wednesday in a message to reporters.

Peralta will be replacing Lucas Bersamin, who retired last week after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Peralta beat Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Andres Reyes Jr. who were also shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the post.

Peralta and Perlas-Bernabe both got seven votes while Reyes received four votes.

Among the three candidates for the post, Peralta is the most senior justice in terms of the number of years in the Judiciary.

Justice Peralta is an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law, the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Peralta started his career in government service when he was appointed Third Assistant City Fiscal in 1987 then went on to become a trial court judge and later a Sandiganbayan Justice before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009.

Prior to his SC appointment, he was a professor, lecturer, resource person, and Bar reviewer in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Remedial Law, and Trial Techniques in various universities.

Peralta will be sitting as the chief magistrate until he retires at the age of 70 on March 27, 2022.

SC ‘considering’ online bar exams, CJ Peralta says

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) is considering holding the next bar examinations virtually.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing on the Judiciary’s proposed 2021 budget, Senator Francis Tolentino cited that there are several states in the United States that are gearing towards online bar examinations.

According to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, they are looking into the said move.

The SC has decided to postpone the 2020 bar examinations due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

It is expected to be held in November this year in conjunction with the 2021 bar examinations.

Next year’s bar exams will be held simultaneously at three sites located in Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Associate justice and 2020 bar examination chairman Marvic Leonen confirmed that the team of the bar chair has been studying the possibility of conducting online but proctored bar exams or a mix of online and written exams in more than two places as part of bar reform.

“Definitely, the bar examinations will not be conducted as it was before,” he said.

“We have to embrace a better normal that is safe, effective and equitable taking advantage of the best digital formats while at the same time acknowledging issues of security and accessibility for some bar applicants,” he added.
 
Leonen said he has already “provided general briefings to the Court en banc but have not yet made a firm proposal until we have worked out all the logistical and security issues.”
 
“I am also in constant consultation with members of the Court and the bar chairs that will succeed me in 2022, 2023 and 2024,” he added.
 
 Leonen said that in the coming months, pilot tests will be done to see the viability of various proposals for the conduct of future bar exams. 

Duterte hits gov’t critics, vows to uphold human rights at UN

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte blasted the critics of his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism, whom he said are using the human rights issue to discredit functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government.”

In a pre-recorded message aired at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte highlighted the Philippines Anti-Terrorism Law which was passed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure drew criticisms, with several groups claiming this could be used to silence and prosecute political opponents.

“A number of interest groups have weaponized human rights; some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned,” Duterte said in his message.

This is the first time that Duterte participated in the gathering since he became president four years ago.

“They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” he said.

“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda. They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through,” he added.

Duterte said his administration remains committed to protecting human rights and continue to take part in “ open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the United Nations.

“But these must be done in full respect of the principles of objectivity, non-interference, non-selectivity, and genuine dialogue. These are the fundamental bases for productive international cooperation on human rights,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte calls for equal access to COVID-19 vaccine at UN assembly

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized that all countries, rich or poor, should have equal access to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine “as a matter of policy.”

In a pre-recorded video message to the UN convention that aired on Wednesday, Duterte stressed the necessity of coordinated international plans and efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, which he called as the “biggest test the world and the United Nations faced since World War II.”

He also pointed out that ensuring universal access to COVID-19 technologies and products to combat COVID-19 would be “pivotal in the global pandemic recovery.”

“The world is in the race to find a safe and effective vaccine. When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy,” he said.

“The Philippines joins our partners in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Non-Aligned Movement in raising our collective voice: the COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good,” he added.

Duterte also welcomed the launch of UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund which is designed to aid low and middle-income countries to overcome the health and development crisis caused by the pandemic as well as support those severely affected by the economic and social disruption it caused.

“COVID-19 knows no border. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed,” he said.

“The Philippines values the role that the United Nations plays in its fight against the pandemic. As a middle-income country whose economic advances have been derailed by the pandemic, we welcome the launch of the UN COVID Response and Recovery Fund,” he added.

During his speech, Duterte also recognized the sacrifices of medical professionals and other workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic.

“We salute all frontliners who put their lives on the line even in countries not their own. So also do we honor and recognize the healthcare professionals who selflessly answered the call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic despite its virulence and unknown characteristics,” he said.

The viral respiratory disease has so far infected over 31 million people across the globe.

In the Philippines, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 291,789 as of Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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