SC reorganizes division membership while waiting for appointment of 15th member

Published February 10, 2022, 1:21 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) has reorganized the membership in its three divisions while waiting for the appointment of an associate justice who will fill up the last slot in the 15-member High Tribunal.

The reorganization was ordered by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo in Special Order No. 2869 issued last Feb. 9.

Effective Feb. 17, the SC’s first division will be composed of Chief Justice Gesmundo as chairperson, Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa as working chairperson, and Associate Justices Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Samuel H. Gaerlan, and Japar B. Dimaampao as members.

The second division is headed by Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas Bernabe as chairperson with Associate Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Rodil V. Zalameda, Ricardo R. Rosario and Jose Midas P. Marquez as members.

Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen heads the third division with Associate Justices Amy C. Lazaro Javier, Mario V. Lopez, Jhosep Y. Lopez as members. Justice Marquez was added as fifth member to complete the membership in the division of five justices.

The lone vacancy in the SC was left with the retirement last Jan 9 of Associate Justice Rosmari D. Carandang.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has nominated to President Duterte the appointment of one of its eight nominees as Carandang’s replacement.

Nominated, in alphabetical order, were Michael G. Aguinaldo, chair of the Commission on Audit; Court of Appeals Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr.; Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje Tang; CA Associate Justice Ramon A. Cruz; Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Geraldine Faith A. Econg; Commissioner Antonio T. Kho Jr. of the Commission on Elections; CA Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh; and Deputy Court Administrator and Officer-in-Charge Raul B. Villanueva of the Office of the Court Administrator.

As of noon on Thursday, Feb. 10, there has been no announcement on the appointment of Carandang’s replacement.

Based on seniority rule, whoever is appointed as Carandang’s replacement will be assigned to the SC’s third division.

There will be another vacancy in the SC on May 14, 2022 with the compulsory retirement of Justice Bernabe. Judiciary members retire at age 70.

The JBC – the constitutional body that accepts, screens, and nominates appointments to the judiciary — has yet to announce the application or recommendation to Bernabe’s post.