Get to know nominees for SC Associate Justice

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Get to know nominees for SC Associate Justice
The Judicial and Bar Council interviews nominees for the Supreme Court Associate Justice post vacated by retired Justice Roberto Abad

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) grills each of the nominees to the Associate Justice post in the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, May 29.

The two-day public interview sessions with contenders to the post will help the JBC, as it chooses from among the candidates who to recommend to President Benigno Aquino III.

A shortlist of candidates will be submitted by the council to Aquino, who holds full executive power to appoint the new High Court magistrate.

The post now in contention was vacated by retired Justice Roberto Abad. Abad left the High Court on May 22, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Abad’s retirement paves the way for Aquino’s 5th appointee to the SC. (READ: SC Justice Abad retirement paves way for 5th Aquino appointee)

The initial 15 nominees to Abad’s former post were trimmed down to 13, after two of them withdrew their nomination. Those no longer in contention include: De La Salle University College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.

The table below shows the names of the 13 contenders in alphabetical order. Click on the names of the nominees to view their profiles:

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

The 51-year-old appellate court magistrate started her career in the judiciary as the Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), Branch 30, in 2000. She was promoted in the same court as its First Vice Executive Judge.

In 2005, she was appointed Presiding Judge of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 28. In 3 years’ time as a judge at the Manila RTC, she was recognized “Outstanding Regional Trial Court Judge of Manila.”

With 22 years of law practice, Valenzuela has been able to dispose of 15.97 cases a month for the last 5 years.

She taught at the St Scholastica’s College, College of Business Law and Taxation and at the Adamson University College of Law.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals (CA)

The Albay-born CA judge climbed up the ranks for 8 years at the Department of Justice (DOJ), starting out with the title Prosecutor I in 1989 and eventually becoming Prosecutor III in 1997. He was appointed RTC judge, after being a long-time prosecutor.

Bruselas was an RTC judge for another 8 years, until being appointed to the CA in 2005. He taught at the UP College of Law. He is 57 years old.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

Carandang was 9th place in the 1975 bar examinations. She was Presiding Judge at the Manila RTC Branch 12 for 9 years until 2003, when she was appointed to the CA.

Prior to being an RTC judge, Carandang served in various capacities to both private and public firms, including the National Home Mortgage Corporation, Perpetual Savings Bank, Family Savings Bank, and the Filinvest Group of Companies.

The 62-year-old appellate court judge graduated valedictorian in elementary and high school. She took up law at the University of the Philippine College of Law, where she graduated cum laude.

Associate Justice, Sandiganbayan

The anti-graft court magistrate served as judge for over 2 decades at the Makati RTC and the MTC, before being appointed to the Sandiganbayan.

Before being judge, she worked for 7 years at the Manila Fiscal’s office.

Cornejo graduated magna cum laude in college and cum laude in law school at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). She was salutatorian in elementary and in high school at the St Rita College.

She has as her character references Retired SC Justice Abad and SC Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

She teaches at the UST Faculty of Civil Law. She is 63 years old.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

With 37 years of law practice, Cruz teaches at the University of the East College of Law, Enverga University College of Law, and San Carlos University in Cebu. He also taught at the Philippine Christian University College of Law.

He joined former president Ferdinand Marcos’ office as a legal officer in 1977, the year he passed the bar. He served as Presiding Judge of the Lucena RTC Branch 60 for 6 years, before being appointed to the CA.

Cruz spent almost two decades in private law practice, with 6 of those years litigating for the Nazareno Law Office. He founded his own law office in 1992. 

One of his two character references is Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Born in Manila, Cruz is 63 years old. 

Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Quezon City

Now an RTC judge for 25 years, Daway earlier spent 13 years in both public and private law practice. He became a confidential lawyer with the CA in 1983 and a Solicitor in 1984.

The 60-year-old RTC judge was born and raised in Apayao. He graduated magna cum laude from San Beda College. He took up law at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Daway graduated salutatorian and valedictorian in elementary and high school, respectively.

Former Commissioner, Commission on Audit (COA)

A former politician, the 57-year-old Guanzon has almost 20 years in law practice. 

She obtained both her economics and law degrees from the University of the Philippines. In addition, Guanzon holds a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University. 

Guanzon taught at the UP College of Law, San Sebastian College of Law, and Ateneo School of Government.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

Hernando was a state prosecutor with the DOJ for 5 years, before being appointed Presiding Judge of Quezon City (QC) RTC Branch 93. He stayed at the QC RTC for over 3 years, until becoming a judge at a provincial court. He was the Presiding Judge at the RTC in San Pablo, Laguna for almost 3 years.

He has been CA justice for 4 years now. With 22 years of law practice, Hernando was able to dispose of 86.49% of the cases he handled in the past 4 years.

He has taught at the San Beda College of Law, San Sebastian College of Law, and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan College of Law. He currently teaches as a part-time professor at the UST Faculty of Civil Law, FEU Institute of Law, Angeles University Foundation School of Law, and the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance.

 He is 47 years old.


The 64-year-old lawyer for the government was born in Jara, Iloilo. He took up Masters of Law at Harvard University. He graduated cum laude and salutatorian of his batch at the UP College of law. He graduated valedictorian in both elementary and high school. 

Jardeleza placed third in the 1975 bar examinations, with a grade of 88.35%.

He spent 23 years in private practice, with 14 of those years as general counsel for San Miguel Corporation. He has a total of 38 years of law practice.

He was the deputy ombudsman for Luzon for 7 months, until he became solicitor-general in 2012. He has been solicitor-general for 2 years now.

Jardeleza had 4 administrative cases against him, which were all dismissed.

Of the 13 candidates, Jardeleza has one of the longest list of character references including, but not limited to, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza.

Jardeleza taught at the UP College of Law.

Chairperson, Commission on Audit

Appointed to her current post by President Aquino no less in 2011, Tan is said to be a strong contender for the SC Associate Justice post. It was under her leadership in the COA, when the commission released its special audit report that helped the justice department file charges in relation to the PDAF scam. 

The COA report provided strong documentary evidence, in addition to the testimony of scam whistleblowers.

Also a certified public accountant, the 58-year-old spent over 20 years in private law practice.

She was undersecretary at the Department of Finance (DOF) for almost two years, starting in 2003. She was also a commissioner at the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) for 6 months in 2002.

At the DOF, she supervised agencies all vulnerable to corruption: Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, and the One Stop Shop Duty Drawback Center. At the PCGG, Tan handled the commission’s sequestered assets and finances.

With 32 years of law practice, Tan had two administrative complaints lodged against her. One was dismissed, while the other was dropped by the complainant.

Tan served as an associate at the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez Law Offices for over 3 years, starting in 1982. It was in 1982 when she pass the bar, with a grade of 82.1%.

Presiding Justice, Court of Appeals

Being a top-notch judge runs in the Reyes family. Reyes is the grandson of former Supreme Court Justice Alex Reyes. Like him, his father and namesake was the former Presiding Justice of the CA.

At the CA, Reyes has an average output of 10 to 15 cases a month.

The 63-year-old appellate court justice spent his 35 years of law practice in government. He was an Associate Justice at the CA for 10 years, before becoming the Presiding Justice.

He started his career as an Assistant Secretary at the CA, before becoming prosecutor and then Chief Legal Officer of Office of the Tanodbayan (now known as the Ombudsman). He was an MTC judge for 3 years and RTC judge for 9 years, before being appointed to the CA.

He taught at the Arellano Law School, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Philippine Christian University. 

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

Reyes was presiding judge at the MTC Pasig, Branch 69 for 4 years and presiding judge at the San Mateo RTC Branch 76 for 12 years, before being appointed to the CA. He worked for over a decade as Attorney III and as technical assistant at the Supreme Court for almost a decade.

With 36 years of law practice, Reyes has an average monthly output at the CA of 16.1 cases.

He is 63 years old and was born in Tacloban, Leyte. He teaches at the De La Salle University, Philippine Judicial Academy in the Supreme Court, and De La Salle Lipa.

Reyes acquired his political science degree and law degree from San Beda College.

According to his profile at the CA, he is a lay minister of the Holy Eucharist, a state advocate of the Knights of Columbus, and a Chapter Head of Couples for Christ.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeals

The 65-year-old CA justice has over 4 decades of law practice, the longest among the 13 candidates.

At the CA, he has an average monthly output of 11.12 cases. 

Apart from current and former members of the judiciary, he has as his character reference House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Tijam studied law at the San Beda College of Law, where he graduated cum laude. He took up AB Philosophy at the San Beda College, where he was magna cum laude.

He teaches at the Philippine School of Business Administration.


The JBC, which recommends appointees to the judiciary, is headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The members include Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III as ex officio members, retired CA Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman from the private sector, Jose Mejia representing the academe, and Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

(Watch the interviews live below.)

(Read the schedule of public interviews below.)

JBC Public Interviews (Schedule)





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