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Chief Justice of the Philippines
Flag of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.svg
Flag of the Supreme Court
Seal of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines.svg
Seal of the Supreme Court
Chief-Justice-Alexander-G.-Gesmundo.jpg
Incumbent
Alexander Gesmundo

since April 5, 2021
Style The Honourable (formal)
Your Honour (when addressed directly in court)
Member of
  • Supreme Court
  • Presidential Electoral Tribunal
  • Judicial and Bar Council
Appointer Presidential appointment upon nomination by the Judicial and Bar Council
Term length Retirement at the age of 70
Inaugural holder
  • 1583 - Dr. Santiago de Vera y Rivas, Captain-General of the Spanish East Indies (Real Audiencia, Spanish East Indies)
  • 1901 - Cayetano Arellano (Supreme Court of the Philippines)
Formation June 11, 1901
Website Official Website: http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/


The chief justice of the Philippines (Filipino: Punong Mahistrado ng Pilipinas) presides over the Supreme Court of the Philippines and is the highest judicial officer of the government of the Philippines. As of April 5, 2021, the position is currently held by Alexander Gesmundo, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte following the early retirement of his predecessor Diosdado Peralta in March 2021.

The chief justice, who was first named on June 11, 1901, in the person of Cayetano Arellano, is the oldest existing major governmental office continually held by a Filipino, preceding the presidency and vice presidency (1935), senators (1916, or as the Taft Commission, on September 1, 1901) and the members of the House of Representatives (1907 as the Philippine Assembly).

Duties and powers

The power to appoint the chief justice lies with the president of the Philippines, who makes the selection from a list of three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council. There is no material difference in the process of selecting a chief justice from that in the selection of associate justices. As with the other justices of the Supreme Court, the chief justice is obliged to retire upon reaching the age of 70; otherwise there is no term limit for the chief justice. In the 1935 constitution, any person appointed by the president has to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments; in the 1973 constitution, the person whom the president appointed did not have to undergo confirmation under the Commission on Appointments.

The current 1987 constitution does not ascribe any formal role to the chief justice other than as an ex-officio chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council and as the presiding officer in any impeachment trial of the president. The chief justice is also required to personally certify every decision that is rendered by the court. The chief justice carries only 1 vote out of 15 in the court, and is generally regarded, vis-a-vis the other justices, as the primus inter pares rather than as the administrative superior of the other members of the court.

Still, the influence a chief justice may bear within the court and judiciary, and on the national government cannot be underestimated. In the public eye, any particular Supreme Court is widely identified with the identity of the incumbent chief justice, hence appellations such as "The Fernando Court" or "The Puno Court". Moreover, the chief justice usually retains high public visibility, unlike the associate justices, who tend to labor in relative anonymity, with exceptions such as Associate Justice J. B. L. Reyes in the 1950s to 1970s.

By tradition, it is also the chief justice who swears into office the president of the Philippines. One notable deviation from that tradition came in 1986, and later again in 2010. Due to the exceptional political circumstances culminating in the People Power Revolution, on February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino took her oath of office as president before Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee in San Juan just minutes before Ferdinand Marcos took his own oath of office also as president before Chief Justice Ramon Aquino. Marcos fled into exile later that night. More than two decades afterwards, Benigno Simeon Aquino III followed in his mother's footsteps (with almost similar reasons) by having Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales administer his oath of office, rather than Chief Justice Renato Corona (who was eventually impeached halfway through Aquino's term). Six years later, in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte took his oath of office before Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, his classmate at San Beda College of Law, instead of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (who would eventually be removed from her position through quo warranto after it was determined that she had been unlawfully holding office ab initio).

The chief justice also names the three justices each from the Supreme Court in the memberships of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

The chief justice is the chief executive officer of the Philippine judiciary system and together with the whole Supreme Court, exercises administrative supervision over all courts and personnel.

List

Scphotosjf
Portraits of the chief justices at the Supreme Court Building
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The chief justice's judicial chambers
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Reception room for the Office of the Chief Justice
No. Image Chief justice Tenure Appointed by Law school Prior office
1 Cayetano Arellano.jpg Cayetano Arellano
(1847–1920)
June 15, 1901 – April 12, 1920
(18 years, 302 days)
(Resigned)
William McKinley UST President of the
Supreme Court
(1899–1901)
2 Victorino Mapa.jpg Victorino Mapa
(1855–1927)
July 1, 1920 – October 31, 1921
(1 year, 122 days)
(Resigned)
Woodrow Wilson Secretary of Justice
(1913–1920)
Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1901–1913)
3 Manuel Araullo.jpg Manuel Araullo
(1853–1924)
November 1, 1921 – July 26, 1924
(2 years, 268 days)
(Died)
Warren G. Harding Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1913–1921)
4 Ramon Avancena.jpg Ramon Avanceña
(1872–1957)
April 1, 1925 – December 24, 1941
(16 years, 267 days)
(Resigned)
Calvin Coolidge Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1917–1925)
5 Abad Santos.jpg Jose Abad Santos
(1886–1942)
December 24, 1941 – May 1, 1942
(128 days)
(Died)
Manuel L. Quezon Northwestern Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1932–1941)
6 Yulo Jose.jpg Jose Yulo
(1894–1976)
May 7, 1942 – July 9, 1945
(3 years, 63 days)
(Resigned)
Masaharu Homma UP Speaker of the
National Assembly
(1939–1941)
7 Manuel Moran.jpg Manuel Moran
(1893–1961)
July 9, 1945 – March 20, 1951
(5 years, 254 days)
(Resigned)
Sergio Osmeña Escuela de Derecho Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1938–1945)
8 Ricardo Paras.jpg Ricardo Paras
(1891–1984)
April 2, 1951 – February 17, 1961
(9 years, 321 days)
(Retired)
Elpidio Quirino UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1941–1951)
9 Cesar Bengzon.jpg Cesar Bengzon
(1896–1992)
April 28, 1961 – May 29, 1966
(5 years, 31 days)
(Retired)
Carlos P. Garcia Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1945–1961)
10 Roberto Concepcion.jpg Roberto Concepcion
(1903–1987)
June 17, 1966 – April 18, 1973
(6 years, 305 days)
(Retired)
Ferdinand Marcos UST Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1954–1966)
11 Querube Makalintal.jpg Querube Makalintal
(1910–2002)
October 21, 1973 – December 22, 1975
(2 years, 62 days)
(Retired)
Ferdinand Marcos UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1962–1973)
12 Fred Ruiz Castro.jpg Fred Ruiz Castro
(1914–1979)
January 5, 1976 – April 19, 1979
(3 years, 104 days)
(Died)
Ferdinand Marcos Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1966–1976)
13 Enrique Fernando.jpg Enrique Fernando
(1915–2004)
July 2, 1979 – July 24, 1985
(6 years, 22 days)
(Retired)
Ferdinand Marcos Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1967–1979)
14 Felix Makasiar.jpg Felix Makasiar
(1915–1992)
July 25, 1985 – November 19, 1985
(117 days)
(Retired)
Ferdinand Marcos Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1970–1985)
15 Ramon Aquino.jpg Ramon Aquino
(1917–1993)
November 20, 1985 – March 6, 1987
(1 year, 106 days)
(Resigned)
Ferdinand Marcos Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1973–1985)
16 Caludio Teehankee.jpg Claudio Teehankee
(1918–1989)
April 2, 1987 – April 18, 1988
(1 year, 16 days)
(Retired)
Corazon Aquino Ateneo Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1969–1987)
17 Pedro Yap.jpg Pedro Yap
(1918–2003)
April 19 – June 30, 1988
(72 days)
(Retired)
Corazon Aquino UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1986–1988)
18 Marcelo Fernan.jpg Marcelo Fernan
(1927–1999)
July 1, 1988 – December 6, 1991
(3 years, 158 days)
(Resigned)
Corazon Aquino Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1986–1988)
19 Andres Narvasa.jpg Andres Narvasa
(1928–2013)
December 8, 1991 – November 30, 1998
(6 years, 357 days)
(Retired)
Corazon Aquino UST Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1986–1991)
20 Scphil999jf (cropped).JPG Hilario Davide Jr.
(born 1935)
November 30, 1998 – December 20, 2005
(7 years, 20 days)
(Retired)
Joseph Estrada UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1991–1998)
21 Artemio Panganiban.jpg Artemio Panganiban
(born 1936)
December 20, 2005 – December 7, 2006
(352 days)
(Retired)
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo FEU Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1995–2005)
22 Reynato Puno.jpg Reynato Puno
(born 1940)
December 7, 2006 – May 17, 2010
(3 years, 161 days)
(Retired)
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(1993–2006)
23 Renato Corona official portrait.jpg Renato Corona
(1948–2016)
May 17, 2010 – May 29, 2012'
(2 years, 12 days)
(Impeached)
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Ateneo Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2002–2010)
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.jpg Maria Lourdes Sereno
(born 1960)
August 25, 2012 – May 11, 2018
(5 years, 259 days)
(De facto Chief Justice,
appointment null and void ab initio)
Benigno Aquino III UP Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2010–2012)
24 CJ-Decastro-2018.jpg Teresita de Castro
(born 1948)
August 28 – October 10, 2018
(43 days)
(Retired)
Rodrigo Duterte Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2007–2018)
25 Bersamin in robes.jpg Lucas Bersamin
(born 1949)
November 26, 2018 – October 18, 2019
(326 days)
(Retired)
Rodrigo Duterte UE Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2009–2018)
26 Diosdado Peralta
(born 1952)
October 23, 2019 – March 27, 2021
(1 year, 155 days)
(Resigned)
Rodrigo Duterte UST Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2009–2019)
27 Alexander Gesmundo
(born 1956)
April 5, 2021 – present
(3 years, 47 days)
Rodrigo Duterte

Bongbong Marcos

Ateneo Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court

(2017–2021)
José Abad Santos was unable to preside over the Supreme Court due to the outbreak of World War II.
Renato Corona was impeached on December 12, 2011, and convicted on May 29, 2012, removing him from office.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio served as acting chief justice after the Impeachment of Renato Corona from May 30, 2012 to August 25, 2012 and after the removal of Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto proceedings from May 14, 2018 to August 25, 2018.
Maria Lourdes Sereno was removed on May 11, 2018 via quo warranto by a special en banc session; the petition alleged Sereno's appointment was void ab initio due to her failure in complying with the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council. Hence her entire term as chief justice is considered a de facto tenure; legally void since the ouster of her predecessor. Sereno filed an ad cautelam motion for reconsideration pleading for the reversal of the decision on May 31, 2018, but on June 19, 2018 was denied with finality (meaning no further pleading shall be entertained, as well as for the immediate entry for judgment) for lack of merit.
As a result of Republic v. Sereno, Maria Lourdes Sereno is no longer considered the 24th chief justice of the Philippines, as the court ruled that her appointment was never legal but null and void ab initio. Thus, on August 25, 2018, Teresita de Castro was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the new de jure and 24th chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Acting Chief Justices

The following became Senior Associate Justices in their tenure in the Supreme Court:

Senior Associate Justice Year Appointed Term as AJ Tenure as Acting Chief Justice
Florentino Torres 1901 1901-1920 April 1, 1920 April 20, 1920
Elias Finley Johnson 1903 1903-1933 April 20, 1920 July 1, 1920
October 31, 1921 November 1, 1921
July 26, 1924 April 1, 1925
José Abad Santos 1932 1932-1941 December 24, 1941
Manuel V. Moran 1938 1938-1945 May 1, 1942 May 7, 1942
Ricardo M. Paras Jr. 1941 1941-1951 March 20, 1951 April 2, 1951
César F. Bengzon 1945 1945-1961 February 17, 1961 April 28, 1961
Roberto R. Concepcion 1954 1954-1966 May 29, 1966 June 17, 1966
Querube C. Makalintal 1962 1962-1973 April 18, 1973 October 21, 1973
Fred Ruiz Castro 1966 1966-1975 December 22, 1975 January 5, 1976
Enrique M. Fernando Sr. 1967 1967-1979 April 19, 1979 July 2, 1979
Claudio Teehankee Sr. 1968 1979-1986 July 24, 1985 July 25, 1985
November 19, 1985 November 20, 1985
March 6, 1987 April 1, 1987
Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera 1979

1986 (reappointed)

1979-1992 April 18, 1988 April 19, 1988
June 30, 1988 July 1, 1988
December 6, 1991 December 8, 1991
Flerida Ruth P. Romero 1991 1991-1999 November 30, 1998
Reynato S. Puno 1993 1993 December 20, 2005
Leonardo A. Quisumbing 1998 1998-2009 December 7, 2005
Antonio T. Carpio 2001 2001-2019 May 17, 2010
May 28, 2012 August 25, 2012
May 11, 2018 August 28, 2018
October 10, 2018 November 28, 2018
October 17, 2019 October 23, 2019
Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe 2011 2011-2022 March 27, 2022 April 5, 2022

Demographics

Longevity

Order Chief justice
Birth Death Age
1
César Bengzon
May 29, 1896
September 3, 1992
96 years, 97 days
2
Ricardo Paras Jr.
February 17, 1891
October 10, 1984
93 years, 236 days
3
Querube Makalintal
December 11, 1910
November 8, 2002
91 years, 333 days
4
Enrique Fernando
July 25, 1915
October 3, 2004
89 years, 70 days
5 Hilario Davide December 20, 1935 Living 88 years, 154 days
6
Pedro Yap
July 1, 1918
November 20, 2003
86 years, 142 days
7 Artemio Panganiban December 7, 1936 Living 87 years, 167 days
8
Ramón Avanceña
April 13, 1872
June 12, 1957
85 years, 60 days
9 Andres Narvasa November 30, 1928 October 31, 2013 84 years, 335 days
10 Roberto Concepcion June 7, 1903 May 3, 1987 83 years, 330 days
11 Reynato Puno May 17, 1940 Living 84 years, 5 days
12 José Yulo September 24, 1894 October 27, 1976 82 years, 33 days
13 Felix Makasiar August 31, 1917 February 19, 1992 74 years, 172 days
14 Ramon Aquino November 20, 1915 March 31, 1993 77 years, 131 days
15 Teresita Leonardo-de Castro October 8, 1948 Living 75 years, 227 days
16 Cayetano Arellano March 2, 1847 December 20, 1920 73 years, 293 days
17 Lucas Bersamin October 18, 1949 Living 74 years, 217 days
18 Marcelo Fernán October 24, 1926 July 11, 1999 72 years, 260 days
19 Victorino Mapa February 25, 1855 April 12, 1927 72 years, 46 days
20 Manuel Araullo January 1, 1853 July 26, 1924 71 years, 207 days
21 Claudio Teehankee, Sr. April 18, 1918 July 11, 1989 71 years, 84 days
22 Diosdado Peralta March 27, 1952 Living 72 years, 56 days
23 Manuel Moran October 27, 1893 August 23, 1961 67 years, 300 days
24 Renato Corona October 15, 1948 April 29, 2016 67 years, 197 days
25 Alexander Gesmundo November 6, 1956 Living 67 years, 198 days
26 Fred Ruiz Castro September 2, 1914 April 19, 1979 64 years, 229 days
27 José Abad Santos February 19, 1886 May 2, 1942 56 years, 72 days

By age group

Age group Total  %
Centenarians 0 0%
Nonagenarians 3 11%
Octogenarians 8 29%
Septugenarians 9 32%
Sexagenarian 7 25%
Quincagenarian 1 4%
Chief justices: 28

By gender

Gender Total  %
Male 26 93%
Female 2 7%
Chief justices: 28 100%

By appointing president

President Total  %
Ferdinand Marcos (KBL/Nacionalista) 6 21%
Corazon Aquino (UNIDO/Independent) 4 14%
Rodrigo Duterte (PDP–Laban) 4 14%
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (Lakas) 3 11%
William McKinley (Republican) 1 4%
Woodrow Wilson (Democratic) 1 4%
Warren G. Harding (Republican) 1 4%
Calvin Coolidge (Republican) 1 4%
Manuel L. Quezon (Nacionalista) 1 4%
Sergio Osmeña (Nacionalista) 1 4%
Japanese Military Administration 1 4%
Elpidio Quirino (Liberal) 1 4%
Carlos P. Garcia (Nacionalista) 1 4%
Joseph Estrada (LAMMP) 1 4%
Benigno Aquino III (Liberal) 1 4%
Chief justices: 28 100%

By law school

Law school Total %
University of the Philippines College of Law 14 50%
University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law 7 25%
Ateneo School of Law 3 11%
Escuela de Derecho 1 4%
Far Eastern University Institute of Law 1 4%
Northwestern University School of Law 1 4%
University of the East College of Law 1 4%
Chief justices: 28 100%

Notable chief justices

  • José Yulo is the only former speaker of the House of Representatives to be subsequently appointed as chief justice. Another, Querube Makalintal, would be elected as Speaker of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (parliament) after his retirement from the court. On the other hand, Marcelo Fernan would, after his resignation from the court, be elected to the Senate and later serve as president of the Senate. Other chief justices served in prominent positions in public service after their retirement include Manuel Moran (ambassador to Spain and the Vatican), and Hilario Davide, Jr. (ambassador to the United Nations). In addition, César Bengzon was elected as the first Filipino to sit as a judge on the International Court of Justice shortly after his retirement in 1966.
  • Roberto Concepcion was reputedly so disappointed with the court's ruling in Javellana v. Executive Secretary where the majority affirmed the validity of the 1973 Constitution despite recognizing the flaws in its ratification, that he retired two months prior to his reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. Thirteen years later, after the ouster of Marcos, the 83-year-old Concepcion was appointed a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission tasked with drafting a new constitution. Drawing from his experiences as chief justice in the early days of martial law, Concepcion introduced several new innovations designed to assure the independence of the Supreme Court, such as the Judicial and Bar Council and the express conferment on the court the power to review any acts of government.
  • The longest period one person served as chief justice was 18 years, 294 days in the case of Cayetano Arellano, who served from 1901 to 1920. Arellano was 73 years, 29 days old upon his resignation, the greatest age ever reached by an incumbent chief justice, and a record unlikely to be broken with the current mandatory retirement age of 70.
  • The shortest tenure of any chief justice was of Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, who served as chief justice for a mere 43 days upon reaching her mandatory retirement age of 70. The previous record was that of Pedro Yap, who served as chief justice for 73 days in 1988. Other chief justices who served for less than a year were Felix Makasiar (85 days), Ramon Aquino (78 days), and Artemio Panganiban (352 days). Of these chief justices, all but Aquino left office upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70; Aquino resigned in 1986 after the newly installed President Corazon Aquino asked for the courtesy resignations of all the members of the court.
  • The oldest person appointed as chief justice was Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, who was 69 years, 324 days old upon his appointment in 2018. Other persons appointed as chief justice in their 69th year were Pedro Yap (69 years, 292 days old); Felix Makasiar (69 years, 280 days old); Artemio Panganiban (69 years, 13 days old); and Lucas Bersamin (69 years, 41 days). The youngest person named as chief justice was Manuel Moran, who was 51 years, 256 days old upon his appointment.
  • Claudio Teehankee had to wait for nearly 18 years as associate justice before he was appointed as chief justice. He was twice bypassed by Ferdinand Marcos in favor a more junior associate justice before he was finally appointed chief justice by Corazon Aquino. Of the Filipino associate justices, Florentino Torres and J. B. L. Reyes served over 18 years in the court without becoming chief justice. In contrast, Pedro Yap had served as associate justice for only 2 years, 10 days before he was promoted as chief justice.
  • The longest-lived chief justice was César Bengzon, who died in 1992 aged 96 years, 97 days old. Two other chief justices lived past 90: Ricardo Paras (93 years, 235 days) and Querube Makalintal (91 years, 322 days).
  • The youngest chief justice to die was José Abad Santos, who was executed by the Japanese army in 1942 at age 56 years, 77 days. The youngest chief justice to die from non-violent causes was Fred Ruiz Castro, who died in 1979 of a heart attack inflight to India, at age 64 years, 231 days. Abad Santos, Castro, and Manuel Araullo are the only chief justices to die while in office.
  • The first chief justice to be impeached is Renato Corona. On December 12, 2011, 188 of the 285 members of House of Representatives voted to transmit to the Senate the Articles of Impeachment filed against him. On May 29, 2012, the Senate, voting 20–3, convicted Corona under Article II pertaining to his failure to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.
  • Maria Lourdes Sereno was the first female appointed to serve as chief justice, following the impeachment of Renato Corona and deliberations by the Judicial and Bar Council in 2012 (her successor Teresita Leonardo-de Castro is the de jure first female chief justice). If not for the quo warranto petition which was granted on May 11, 2018, that removed her from the post as well as voiding her appointment and declaring her tenure as a de facto term, she would have been the second chief justice to similarly undergo impeachment proceedings as her late predecessor, Corona. Her ouster was made final on June 19, 2018, by the denial with finality (meaning no further pleading would be entertained, as well as for the immediate entry for judgment) of her ad cautelam motion for reconsideration filed on May 31, 2018, pleading for the reversal of her ouster via quo warranto.

Timeline

See also

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