PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Bernelito Fernandez as associate justice of the anti-graft court.
He is the son of former Sandiganbayan presiding justice Bernardo Fernandez, the first bar topnotcher of San Beda College, the President’s alma mater, who also served as Tanodbayan during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos.
The older Fernandez, now in his 80s and is from Cagayan, acquitted the late Gen. Fabian Ver, a trusted military officer of Marcos, of murder charges in connection with the Aug. 21, 1983 assassination of former President Aquino’s father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
The younger Fernandez topped the six names the Judicial and Bar Council included in its shortlist submitted to the President.
“I am pleased to transmit herewith the appointment letter of Mr. Bernelito Fernandez, Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan [vice Teresita Diaz-Baldos], signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” said a letter by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to the Supreme Court.
Duterte will appoint three more Sandiganbayan justices with the retirement of Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Napoleon Inoturan, and the impending retirement of Roland Jurado.
In a transmittal letter from Malacañang sent to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, Duterte appointed Fernandez to the anti-graft court to succeed retired Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Perez was recognized by his colleagues for his 44 years of service in the high court during his last flag raising ceremony at the SC.
Perez, the only SC justice who rose from the ranks, will retire from the judiciary tomorrow when he reaches his mandatory retirement age of 70.
The vacancy paves the way for the first appointment of President Duterte in the high tribunal.
The Judicial and Bar Council has submitted a shortlist with five candidates for the post: Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr., Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr., Apolinario Bruselas Jr. and Japar Dimaampao, and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Samuel Martires.
Perez was appointed the 167th justice of the high court by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in December 2009.
In 1972, upon finishing his law degree, Perez was appointed as a legal assistant in the SC’s Office of the Reporter.
Perez became a confidential attorney in the office of Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro in 1977 and, 10 years later, was appointed deputy clerk of court.
In 1996, he was promoted to assistant court administrator and, in 2000, deputy court administrator.
He was designated numerous times as acting court administrator prior to his appointment as court administrator in July 2008.
Later this month, the SC will have another vacancy with the retirement of Associate Justice Arturo Brion on December 29.
He has already filed leave prior to his retirement and was already given recognition in earlier SC flag-raising ceremony.
The JBC also already came up with the shortlist of seven nominees of Brion’s post last week: CA Justices Bruselas, Dimaampao, Reyes (Jose), Rosmari Carandang, Amy Javier-Lazaro and Noel Tijam; and Centro Escolar University law school associate dean Rita Linda Ventura-Jimeno.