By Charissa Luci-Atienza
An ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) said on Wednesday Associate Justice Samuel Martires “has advantage” over other aspirants for the top post at the Office of the Ombudsman, being a former Justice of the Sandiganbayan.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said he was not suprised that the 11 SC magistrates recommended Martires to be the next Ombudsman to the JBC.
“He came from the graft court so he must be well verse on graft and corruption cases which is the mandate of an Ombudsman,” he said in an interview.
During Tuesday’s en banc session, the 12 SC justices voted in favor of Martires to be the replacement of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who will retire on July 26. Martires was the first appointee of President Duterte to the Supreme Court.
As ex-officio JBC members, Umali and Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice, shared a single vote in the JBC.
“It’s his turn so I leave it to his better judgment,” Umali said.
When asked if Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello could still make it in the JBC’s shortlist of aspirants that will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 20, he said: “Let’s wait until JBC voting is over.”
Aside from Martires, Bello, also the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process also got the endorsement from the SC Justices, garnering three votes.
Retired Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and current Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval received four votes.
Other aspirants include lawyer Edna Herrera-Batacan, Sandiganbayan Justice Efren dela Cruz, Judge Carlos Espero
II, and lawyers Rey Nathaniel Ifufurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez and Rex Rico.