By Jeffrey Damicog and Rey Panaligan
Twenty-two persons including Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner Lanee Cui-David, the former lawyer of pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, will vie for the vacant Supreme Court (SC) seat left open by Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.
Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) Ex Officio member and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed the list of applicants after the JBC closed the submission of applications last week.
Guevarra said the JBC will conduct its first deliberation over the list of applicants on Thursday, January 31.
“After the first deliberation tomorrow, the JBC executive committee will come up with the official list of contenders for the position, which will eventually be the subject of final deliberations by the JBC at its next meeting,” the Secretary said.
“Only then will the JBC shortlist be prepared and submitted to the President,” he added.
Most of those who applied are from the Court of Appeals (CA), namely, Justices Oscar Badelles, Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, Ramon Bato Jr., Apolinario Bruselas Jr., Ramon Cruz, Stepehen Cruz, Edgardo delos Santos, Japar Dimaampao, Ramon Garcia, Henri Jean Paul INting, Amy Lazaro-Javier, Jhosep Lopez, Mario Lopez, Eduardo Peralta Jr., and Ricardo Rosario.
The other applicants are Marquez, David, Sandiganbayan Justices Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Efren dela Cruz, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) Justice Roman del Rosario, and lawyers Cesar Villanueva and Jeremy Gatdula.
The JBC opened the applications for the vacant post on December 7 and after over a month, closed it last January 22.
The post became open after Bersamin was appointed as chief justice by President Rodrigo Duterte on Nov. 26.
Bersamin bested four other candidates in the shortlist for chief justice, namely, fellow SC Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Andres Reyes, Jr.
He is the seventh appointee of Duterte at the SC where Bersamin has been a magistrate since his appointment in 2009 by then President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Bersamin was regional trial court judge in 1986 and Court of Appeals (CA) justice in 2003.
Aside from post vacated by Bersamin as associate justice, there is another vacancy left with the retirement last January 5 by then Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam.
The JBC had submitted to the President the list of its nominees for the Tijam post.
Nominated were SC Court Administrator and Spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez, Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Manuel M. Barrios, Japar B. Dimaampao, Amy C. Lazaro Javier, Ramon A. Cruz, Ramon R. Garcia, Mario V. Lopez, and Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr.; Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang and former Ateneo de Manila University law dean Cesar L. Villanueva.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days from January 5 to appoint Tijam’s replacement from the list submitted by the JBC – the constitutional office that accepts, screens and nominates appointments in the judiciary.
In the case of the vacancy left by Bersamin as associate justice, the President has 90 days from November 26, 2018 to appoint a replacement.
Whoever is appointed as Tijam’s replacement would be the President’s 10th appointee to the SC.
The President has appointed two Chief Justices – Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro who retired last October 10 and Bersamin who is set to retire on October 18 this year when he turns 70, the mandatory retirement age for members of the judiciary.
Then CA Associate Justice Rosmari D. Carandang was the President’s seventh appointee as SC associate justice. The first six appointees were Associate Justices Samuel Martires (who retired to assume the post of Ombudsman), Tijam, Andres B. Reyes Jr., Alexander G. Gesmundo, Jose C. Reyes Jr., and Ramon Paul L. Hernando.
Aside from Bersamin, three more SC justices are set to retire this year. They are Associate Justices Mariano C. del Castillo on July 29 and Francis H. Jardeleza on September 26, and Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio on October 26.