Philippine judiciary

Two Malacañang officials shortlisted for CA, CTA posts

Pia Ranada

VACANT POSTS. Justice positions at the Court of Appeals are still open.

File photo

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong and Undersecretary Jennifer Ong are included in the Judicial and Bar Council shortlists for posts at the Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong was shortlisted for a Court of Appeals justice post while Office of the President Undersecretary Jennifer Ong has been shortlisted for both a CA and Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) justice post.

Their names are listed in two letters sent by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to President Rodrigo Duterte on February 24.

The JBC shortlisted 36 nominees, including the two Ongs, for six vacant posts in the appellate court. So far, Duterte has only made one appointment to the CA – Justice Alfonso Ruiz II on May 20, 2021.

The JBC shortlisted 15 nominees, including Jennifer Ong, for the two vacant posts at the CTA. Duterte filled one of the vacancies by appointing Justice Marian Ivy Reyes-Fajardo on May 20, 2021.

This means the two Palace officials are still in the running for the posts.

“So far, those are the only official transmittals we have received for CA and CTA from the Supreme Court en banc,” Rappler was told on Tuesday, September 14, upon inquiry with the JBC.

Medialdea’s right-hand man, Bong Go’s aide

Michael Ong has served as Senior Deputy Executive Secretary, or the right-hand man of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, since August 2018. Ong took the place of Menardo Guevarra when he was appointed as justice secretary.

Michael Ong started his career in Malacañang even before the Duterte administration. From 2010 to 2012, he was assistant secretary under the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel. He has also served under the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs.

Before he became SDES, he was deputy executive secretary for general administration.

Undersecretary Jennifer Ong is currently identified as President Assistant I under the Office of the Appointments Secretary, under the OP.

The appointments secretary is in charge confirming the President’s meetings, activities, and events.

Jennifer Ong had also been closely identified with Duterte longtime aide Senator Bong Go, back when he was special assistant to the president. She would often be instructed by Go to coordinate with key people on certain tasks.

One Malacañang source said Ong was one of Go’s key aides. Rappler sought her comment regarding this information but has not received a reply as of writing. This page will be updated once she responds.

Two other former and current Palace officials who are said to be Go’s aides when he was special assistant to the President had vied for posts at the Office of the Ombudsman. The now-embattled former Palace undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao withdrew his application for Overall Deputy Ombudsman while Palace undersecretary Anderson Lo was shortlisted for Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.