MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has applied for the post of Ombudsman, a Rappler source confirmed on Tuesday, May 15.
This development comes on the last day for applications for the Ombudsman post which will be vacant by July 26. The deadline was set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens applicants and nominees to the judiciary.
Bello was a former justice secretary and solicitor general. He led the government negotiating panel in peace talks with the New People’s Army, Communist Party of the Philippines, and National Democratic Front.
Bello’s interest in the post has been talked about in the legal circle for months. Also said to be interested in the Ombudsman position and supposed potential frontrunner is lawyer Edna Batacan.
From San Beda, Batacan represented former mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a graft case in 2011. Batacan won that case for the mayor who would later become president. He was cleared by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Batacan also represented former first gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Another applicant is Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, who was presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan before he retired, and was appointed special prosecutor by Duterte in 2016.
Another name being closely monitored as Tuesday’s deadline closes is that of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had reportedly been a shoo-in for the post until recently.
Calida is facing a graft complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for supposed financial interest in a security agency which has contracts with the government.
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is entitled to a full 7-year term, dismissing petitions to remove her for supposedly overstaying.
Former Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol III had asked the SC to remove Morales, saying she should have served as Ombudsman for only a year. She was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2011, after Merceditas Gutierrez resigned.
Vitangcol said Morales should have served only the remaining period of Gutierrez’s term, or until 2012. This was denied by the SC, allowing Morales to serve her full term until July this year. – Rappler.com