By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has re-organized the membership in its three divisions with the retirement Sunday of Justice Jose Catral Mendoza.
Starting Monday, August 14, the SC’s first division will be composed of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (working chairperson), Mariano del Castillo, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam.
The second division will still be chaired by Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio with Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Andres Reyes Jr.
Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. chairs the third division with Justices Lucas Bersamin, Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, and Samuel Martires. The fifth member is Justice Reyes in a temporary capacity.
Sessions in the three divisions are held Mondays and Wednesdays. Full court sessions, chaired by Chief Justice Sereno, are held Tuesdays. The chief justice and the chairpersons of the three divisions may call special sessions if the need arises.
Earlier, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) had nominated six Court of Appeals (CA) associate justices and one Sandiganbayan associate justice to the post that would be vacated by Justice Mendoza.
Nominated were CA Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo with seven votes each; CA Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr. with six votes; CA Associate Justices Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., and Ramon Paul L. Hernando with five votes each; and CA Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Amy S. Lazaro-Javier with four votes each.
Also nominated was then CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes but he had been appointed by President Duterte to the vacancy left by SC Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes last July 6.
Whoever is appointed to replace Justice Mendoza will be the President’s fourth appointee in the SC. The first two were Justices Martirez and Tijam.