By Jeffrey Damicog
Whoever the Supreme Court (SC) recommended as the next ombudsman does not mean spots have been secured in the short list which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday (July 17).
“It’s the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) which will officially evaluate and select the candidates and submit a short list to the President under our Constitution,” said Guevarra who is a member of the JBC.
The JBC has been tasked under the Constitution to screen applicants seeking a position in the judiciary.
The SC today held an en banc session and endorsed Justice Samuel Martirez to the ombudsman post.
Outgoing Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is set to vacate the post once her seven-year term ends this July 26.
“The SC voting is an informal thing,” the Secretary explained. “It only shows the personal preferences of the justices,” he added.
Among the candidates, SC Associate Justice Samuel Martires was unanimously recommended after having received 11 votes, while retired Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and incumbent Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandival and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III got four and three votes, respectively.
Of the 14 SC magistrates, Associate Justices Estela Bernabe and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa were not present during the voting, while, Martires did not participate.
Meanwhile, the JBC is set to release its shortlist of candidates this July 20 and submit it to President Rodrigo Duterte for selection.
Guevarra admitted that the JBC will also look into the recommendations made by the SC. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio is the ex officio chairperson of the JBC.
“The SC recommendations will be noted and considered by the JBC when the latter deliberates on the OMB (Office of the Ombudsman) candidates on July 20,” he said.
Other candidates vying for the ombudsman post are Sandiganbayan Justice Efren dela Cruz; Davao City regional trial court Judge Carlos Espero II; President Rodrigo Duterte’s lawyer Edna Herrera-Batacan; Duterte’s law school classmate lawyer Rex Rico; lawyer Raineir Madrid, the legal counsel of Duterte’s son, former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte; and lawyers Rey Nathaniel Ifurung and Felito Ramirez.