The Supreme Court (SC) has reorganized its three divisions in view of the retirement of two senior justices.
The reshuffle was effected through Special Order No. 2409, dated December 29, 2016.
It came about upon the retirement of SC Justice Jose Portugal Perez on December 14, 2016 and Justice Arturo Brion on December 29, 2016.
Perez was a former member of the SC 3rd Division while Brion was a former member of the SC 2nd Division.
“In the interest of the service, the regular members of the three divisions of the court shall be as follows, effective upon the retirement of Justice Arturo Brion on December 29, 2016,” the document read.
Following the Rules on Seniority under Section 8 of the Internal Rules of the SC, the one-two-three designation shall be implemented.
The rule reads, “The composition of each division shall be based on Seniority as follows:
(a) First Division—Chief Justice (Sereno), the fourth in seniority as working chairman (Teresita Leonardo-de Castro), the seventh in seniority (Mariano del Castillo) the tenth in seniority(Estela Perlas-Bernabe) and the thirteenth in seniority (Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa).
(b) Second Division—the second in seniority as chairman (Antonio Carpio), the fifth in seniority (Diosdado Peralta), the eighth in seniority (Jose Mendoza), the eleventh in seniority (Marvic Mario Victor Leonen). The fifth member of this division remains vacant.
(c) Third Division—the third in seniority as chairman (Presbitero Velasco Jr.), the sixth in seniority (Lucas Bersamin), the ninth in seniority (Bienvedido Reyes) and the twelfth in seniority (Francis Jardeleza).
This set-up under Internal Rules that is considered the “General Rule” was and can be disregarded by Sereno by using the “Exception” under the second paragraph of Section 8, which reads, “The Chief Justice may, however, consider factors other than seniority in division assignments. The appointment of a new member of the court shall necessitate the reorganization of divisions at the call of the Chief Justice.”