The Judicial and Bar Council submitted a shortlist of nominees for the position of Ombudsman to President Rodrigo Duterte Friday, as Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales retires July 26.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the JBC, revealed that Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires topped the shortlist of candidates for the position.
Also included in the shortlist were retired Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval and private practitioner Felito Ramirez.
Martires got six votes from the seven-member JBC, Sandoval got five while Ramirez got four.
The President has 90 days to appoint a new Ombudsman after Morales leaves office next week.
Morales, a retired SC associate justice, was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III as Ombudsman in 2011.
Another aspirant for the position, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, slammed his enemies who want to replace him and to block his nomination for the Ombudsman.
“Being an Ombudsman depends on the members of the Judicial Bar Council and the President. All applicants are qualified but why choose to discredit me?” the online news site Rappler quoted Bello as saying.
Bello denied involvement in the extortion complaint filed by Monalie Dizon of the Kilusang Pagbabago National Movement for Change before the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna has said the Labor chief will be probed over the allegations.
Bello also questioned the timing of the complaint, which came as he expressed interest in applying for the post of Ombudsman.
Dizon alleged that Bello and former Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say asked P6.8 million from Azizza Salim to reverse the cancellation of his recruitment agency’s license.
Bello denied all of the allegations and said he will resign if the group can show evidence that he was involved in corruption.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court unanimously recommended Martires.
“Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires was unanimously recommended by the Court (Bernabe, Caguioa, JJ., not present) for appointment as Ombudsman. He obtained 11 votes of the 12 Justices who were present (Martires, J., no part),” SC spokesman Theodore Te said, in a media briefing.
Martires, a graduate of San Beda College of Law and a former Sandiganbayan justice, was the first appointee of Duterte to the high court.
Martires, was an associate justice of the Sandiganbayan and also served as a regional trial court judge of Agoo, La Union.
If appointed Ombudsman, Martires will have to take an early retirement from the 15-member bench.
Sandoval, on the other hand, is a retired Sandiganbayan presiding justice. An expert in criminal law, he was a professor, author and a Bar reviewer. He is currently a special prosecutor.
Ramirez is a private practitioner. He is also a graduate of San Beda and a fraternity brother of President Duterte.
The JBC, concurrently chaired by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, is constitutionally mandated to screen applicants to the Judiciary and top Ombudsman positions.
Besides Carpio and Guevarra, the JBC is composed by ex-officio members Senator Richard Gordon and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali. Gordon and Umali have their term sharing agreement since the Congress is entitled only to one vote in the council.
Its regular members include retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, representing the justices and chairperson of the JBC Executive Committee, Jose Mejia, representing the academe, Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and retired judge Toribio Ilao, representing the private sector.
Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras, who was reportedly eyeing the top post at the Labor Department, admitted knowing Salim, who first approached him about the alleged extortion activities.
Paras is also connected to PACC’s Luna through the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
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