President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo as chief justice, Palace spokesman Harry Roque confirmed on Monday.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo earlier disclosed the appointment of Gesmundo, whom he said was Duterte’s “personal choice.”

Gesmundo succeeds Diosdado Peralta, who retired a year earlier than the mandatory age last March.

Gesmundo is Duterte’s fourth chief justice appointee after Chief Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Lucas Bersamin and Peralta. Duterte was the one who promoted Gesmundo from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court in 2017.

“Hindi na po bago si Chief Justice Gesmundo sa hudikatura na kaniyang pinagsilbihan ng maraming taon bilang associate justice ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman at bilang associate justice po ng Sandiganbayan,” Roque said in a media briefing.

“Dahil dito, tiwala kami na ipagpapatuloy ng bagong Punong Mahistrado na i-uphold ang judicial excellence at independence, pairalin ang rule of law, at pangunahan ang mga reporma para itaguyod ang integridad at propesyunalismo sa hudikatura,” he added.

Gesmundo graduated from Ateneo de Manila in 1985 and passed the Bar a year after.

He had voted affirmatively for Sen. Leila de Lima’s arrest, the ouster of ex-Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the dismissal of a petition seeking the publication of Duterte’s health records and the dismissal of the electoral protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. John Ezekiel J. Hirro