NEW SC JUSTICE. Former Court of Appeals Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla (5th from left) is sworn in as the 188th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta (5th from right) at the SC session hall on Friday (July 17, 2020). Witnessing the oath-taking are the SC justices and Baltazar-Padilla’s family. (Photo courtesy of SC Public Information Office)

MANILA – Newly-appointed Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla took her oath as the newest member of the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday.

Baltazar-Padilla took her oath before Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta at the SC en banc session hall in Padre Faura, Manila.

Her appointment as the 188th magistrate of the high court completes the 15-seat tribunal.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Baltazar-Padilla as the replacement of Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. who retired last May 11.

Padilla started her judicial career in 1996 as a metropolitan trial court judge in Manila and later as a regional trial court judge before being named to the Court of Appeals in 2006.

A graduate of the Lyceum of the Philippines, Padilla placed fifth in the 1984 bar examinations with a rating of 90.3 percent.

Following Baltazar-Padilla’s appointment, the SC has reorganized its three divisions.

Peralta will chair the First Division with Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa as working chairperson. Their members are Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr., Amy Lazaro-Javier, and Mario Lopez.

Meanwhile, Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe will head the Second Division where Baltazar-Padilla will be a member together with Associate Justices Ramon Paul Hernando, Henri Jean Paul Inting and Edgardo Delos Santos.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, meanwhile, was named the Third Division’s chair with Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo, Rosmari Carandang, Rodil Zalameda, and Samuel Gaerlan as members. (PNA)