Carpio accepts Chief Justice nomination

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has accepted his automatic nomination as the country's next top magistrate on Friday.

"I sent my acceptance letter this afternoon," Carpio said in a text message.

According to the rules of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which screens applicants to the judiciary, the five most senior associate justices are automatically nominated for the post, but they have to formally accept their nomination.

The Chief Justice post was vacated by Teresita Leonardo de Castro who retired last October 10. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he chose De Castro since she was the most senior among the three justices in the shortlist. When asked last October 9 if he would appoint Carpio for the same reason, Duterte only said "I will decide when I cross the bridge."

Carpio has repeatedly criticized some of Duterte's policies, particularly the administration's allegedly soft stance on the South China Sea dispute. Carpio was part of the Philippine delegation to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that argued for and won the country's case against China. Duterte has said he can't bring up this landmark ruling with China now, but he promised to do so within his term.

Carpio earlier turned down his nomination to be Maria Lourdes Sereno's replacement. He said he wanted to be consistent with his position that an impeachable official like Sereno could only be ousted through a Senate impeachment trial, as stated in the Constitution. He was among the six justices who voted against Sereno's ouster.

Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin, two of the eight justices who voted to oust Sereno, are again vying for the Chief Justice post after accepting their automatic nomination. Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo has declined his nomination.

The JBC has extended the deadline of application from October 15 to October 26.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.