By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) endorsed to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) yesterday the nomination of Justice Samuel R. Martires as Ombudsman to replace Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales who retires on July 26.
Martires got 11 votes from the 12 justices who were present during yesterday’s full court session. Justices Estela Perlas Bernabe and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa were not present.
Martires is set to retire on January 2 next year when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 for members of the judiciary.
He was appointed to the SC by President Duterte on Mar. 2, 2017.
Only two other aspirants for the Ombudsman post received votes from the SC justices. They are former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice now Special Prosecutor Edilberto G. Sandoval who got four votes and Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III who got three votes.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said whoever the Supreme Court recommends does not mean spots have been secured.
“It’s the JBC who will officially evaluate and select the candidates and submit a shortlist to the President under our Constitution,” said Guevarra who is a member of the JBC.
“The SC voting is an informal thing,” the Secretary explained. “It only shows the personal preferences of the justices,” he added.
The JBC — the constitutionally mandated office that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary and to the posts of Ombudsman and deputy Ombudsman — is set to meet on Friday to vote on its official nominees to replace Morales.
The President has 90 days from July 26 to appoint Morales’ replacement from the JBC list of nominees.
Aside from Martires, Sandoval and Bello, the other aspirants to the Ombudsman post are Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz, Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Espero II, Duterte’s law school classmate Rex Rico and fraternity brother Felito Ramirez, Duterte’s lawyer Edna Herrera – Batacan, and lawyers Rey Ifurung and Rainier Madrid. (With a report from Jeffrey Damicog)