‘Habal-habal’ justice joins old-timers in JBC shortlist for Supreme Court

Lian Buan
‘Habal-habal’ justice joins old-timers in JBC shortlist for Supreme Court

LeAnne Jazul

The 9 names are familiar, except for one: Justice Edgardo Delos Santos, who is tagged as the ‘habal-habal’ justice of Visayas

MANILA, Philippines – The shortlist from which President Rodrigo Duterte will choose his 7th Supreme Court appointee contains the same names, except for one – first-time applicant Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Edgardo Delos Santos from Cebu.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) announced on Monday, October 1, that 8 CA justices and Court Administrator Midas Marquez are shortlisted for the replacement of former justice and now-Ombudsman Samuel Martires.

They are:

  1. CA Justice Japar Dimaampao (6 votes)
  2. CA Justice Ramon Garcia (6 votes)
  3. CA Justice Manuel Barrios (5 votes)
  4. CA Justice Apolinario Bruselas (5 votes)
  5. CA Justice Rosmari Carandang (5 votes)
  6. CA Justice Edgardo Delos Santos (4 votes)
  7. CA Justice Ramon Paul Hernando (4 votes)
  8. CA Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier (4 votes)
  9. Court Administrator Midas Marquez (4 votes)

Apart from Delos Santos, all the nominees have been repeatedly shortlisted and bypassed for a vacancy before.

Delos Santos, who is 66 years old, is a Cebu-based CA justice who said he was encouraged by his lawyer son to apply for the High Court. Delos Santos, tagged as the ‘habal-habal’ justice of Visayas, was born to a fisherman father in Leyte, and who rose the ranks from being a trial court researcher to municipal judge to trial court judge to a justice.


Meanwhile, Dimaampao’s repeated nominations to the Court have been anticipated by Mindanaoans because if he is appointed, he would be only the second Muslim justice in the history of the Supreme Court.

Dimaampao, born in Marawi City, has been pushing for the organization of a sharia appellate court and vows to enrich jurisprudence on sharia law.

Javier and Carandang are the only two women in the Martires vacancy shortlist. Asked in a previous JBC interview about Duterte’s seeming preference for men appointees, Javier said she does not see Duterte as an “enemy of women.”

“I see him as a person who respects and loves his late mother, who he credits to have unconditionally loved him, and brought out the leader that he is,” Javier previously said.

Carandang, on the other hand, has been vocal about her disagreements with SC decisions, such as the hero’s burial given to the late president Ferdinand Marcos. In the same interview, Bruselas said the Marcos burial was an “exercise of the prerogative of the executive branch.”

Marquez’ application was opposed by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who accused the Supreme Court official of colluding with Duterte supporters to get sheriffs to drop a disbarment complaint against the mayor supposedly in exchange of increasing his chances to be appointed.

The Davao city mayor previously slammed Marquez, whom she said “lacks the virtues of honor, justice, and fairness.” Marquez clarified that Carpio misunderstood the information that reached her, and denied “the allegations that I talked to complainants, the witnesses, that I maneuvered or manipulated.”

Barrios, who will turn 66 years old and retire in 2022, has said he is against divorce.

Garcia was asked a tough question during his last interview, a rarity in recent JBC interviews, wherein he said he disagrees with the Supreme Court majority ruling favoring the Philippine Airlines (PAL) in a 20-year old labor case. It was a flip-flop, both for the SC, and particularly for Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin, both potential Chief Justice nominees.

Hernando, who graduated from San Beda and who will have a two-decade term in the Supreme Court if appointed, boasts of a good record in speedy disposition of cases.

The Martires vacancy is Duterte’s 7th pick for the Supreme Court, including his appointment of Teresita Leonardo De Castro as Chief Justice.

This year alone, Duterte has up to 3 more vacancies left to fill – a replacement for De Castro as Associate Justice, a replacement for De Castro as Chief Justice, and another replacement if the next Chief Justice is an incumbent justice.

By 2022, only two justices – Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa – will be non-Duterte appointees. – Rappler.com 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.