MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Malacañang undersecretary Jennifer Ong and former Napoles lawyer and erstwhile Bureau of Internal Revenue executive Lanee Cui-David Court of Appeals (CA) and Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) associate justices, respectively.
Ong’s appointment paper, seen by Rappler, was dated May 20, 2021 but was signed by Ong on Friday, January 21. Another source said Ong took her oath before Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo on Friday.
David had been appointed in November 2021, according to a Rappler source.
Ong has been closely identified with Duterte’s longtime right-hand man and now senator Bong Go, serving as his aide back when he was special assistant to the President. Before joining the judicial branch, Ong had served as President Assistant I under Malacañang’s Office of the Appointments Secretary. The appointments secretary is in charge of confirming the President’s meetings, activities, and events.
One Malacañang source has said Ong was one of Go’s key aides. Rappler sought her comment regarding this information but has not received a reply.
Meanwhile, David previously served as BIR deputy commissioner, having been appointed to the post by Duterte in July 2016. Before then, she was one of the lawyers hired by Janet Lim Napoles to defend her and her children in cases related to the pork barrel scam, the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. It involved the connivance of lawmakers and other government officials with Napoles, who used her bogus non-governmental organizations to siphon public funds.
David had represented Napoles’ daughter, Jeane, in her tax evasion cases before the CTA which were later dismissed. Her husband, Stephen, represented Janet Napoles.
In 2019, David had also applied to be a Supreme Court justice.
After defending clients before the CTA, David will now sit as one of its judges. – with reports from Lian Buan/Rappler.com