Who’s who: Candidates vying to replace former SC justice Martires

Jodesz Gavilan
Many of the candidates are current associate justices at the Court of Appeals and had previously applied for a position at the High Court

CANDIDATES. 13 people are vying for the spot left by now Ombudsman Samuel Martires at the Supreme Court. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is screening 13 candidates vying to fill the spot in the Supreme Court left vacant by now Ombudsman Samuel Martires

Eight individuals will face the JBC for an interview on Wednesday, September 26, – an essential part in the process of choosing the next member of the judiciary. The other 5, meanwhile, had been interviewed before. (EXPLAINER: How the Judicial and Bar Council works)

Save for two, most of the candidates are current associate justices at the Court of Appeals. Many also previously applied for a position in the High Court. 

Know who the 13 candidates for chief justice are: 


CA Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr

Photo from the Supreme Court

  • Law degree from the University of the Philippines 
  • Appointed CA Associate Justice in July 2005
  • Served as presiding judge of Quezon City RTC Branch 95
  • Served in the Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • Nominated in 2013 as candidate for the Sandiganbayan presiding justice vacancy but lost
  • Shortlisted for SC justice several times – in 2011, 2014, 3 times in 2016, twice in 2017, and 2018
  • Awarded for judicial excellence in 2003
  • Set to retire in May 2026

CA Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang

Photo from the Supreme Court

  • Law degree from the University of the Philippines
  • Placed 9th in the 1975 Bar examination
  • Appointed CA Associate Justice in March 2003
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice position numerous times, including in 20122016, twice in 2017 and 2018
  • Previously served as presiding judge of Manila RTC Branch 12
  • Worked as legal assistant at the Aguiluz Law Office, legal counsel of Filinvest Development Corporation, and corporate secretary and legal counsel of Filinvest Land Incorported, among others, before joining the judiciary
  • Became a subject of a complaint in 2008 after being accused of asking money before she ruled in favor of the complainant in a case
  • Set to retire in January 2022

CA Associate Justice Stephen Cruz

Photo from the Supreme Court

  • Law degree from Ateneo Law School
  • Appointed CA Associate Justice in December 2006
  • Appointed presiding judge of Lucena City RTC Branch 60 in 2000
  • Entered the New York State Bar and the American Bar Association in 1982
  • Served as presidential staff legal officer in 1977 and lawyer for various major corporations
  • Received the Quezon Gintong Medalya ng Karangalan in 2008
  • Penned the 2015 resolution that asked Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to comment on the contempt charge filed by ousted Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr
  • Set to retire in August 2020

 CA Associate Justice Edgardo delos Santos

  • Law degree from the University of San Carlos in Cebu
  • Appointed CA associate justice in May 2008
  • Served as Bacolod RTC judge
  • Started a judicial career in 1978 as a court legal researcher under Court of First Instance Judge Abelardo Dayrit
  • Served as regional administrative officer of the National Grains Authority in 1979
  • Worked under then-SC justice Felix Makasiar as technical assistant and later on as court confidential attorney
  • Faced an administrative complaint before the SC stemming from allegations that he demanded P6 million while handling a case in 2014. The High Cout dismissed the complaint for “utter lack of merit.”
  • Set to retire in June 2022

CA Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao

File photo

  • Law degree from University of the East College of Law
  • Appointed CA Associate Justice in March 2004
  • Law professor specializing in commercial law and taxation
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice in 2011, twice in 2016twice in 2017, and 2018
  • Set to retire in December 2033

CA Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando

File photo by Rappler

  • Law degree from San Beda College of Law
  • Appointed CA Associate Justice in February 2010
  • Served as trial court judge for nearly 7 years – in QC RTC and San Pablo, Laguna RTC
  • Previously served as a state prosecutor with the Department of Justice for 5 years
  • Taught commercial law, civil law, and remedial law in several law schools
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice position in 2017 and 2018
  • Set to retire August 2036

CA Associate Justice Mario Lopez

  • Obtained law degree from San Beda College of Law
  • Appointed CA associate justice in May 2006
  • Appointed Batangas City RTC judge in 1995 and later became the executive judge of the city
  • Served as a prosecutor at the Tanodbayan (now the Office of the Ombudsman) in 1985
  • Served as a hearing officer at the Central Bank in 1983
  • First worked as a technical assistant under then-SC justice Juvenal Guerrero in 1981
  • Set to retire in June 2025

SC Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez

File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

  • Law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University
  • Appointed 14th SC Court Administrator in 2010
  • Previously headed the SC Public Information Office
  • Served as chief of staff of then-SC chief justice Reynato Puno
  • Started career in SC in 1991 as a summer apprentice doing legal research in office of one associate justice while still a student, then became regular law clerk of several SC justices
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice in 2018
  • Former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said that the rallies of SC employees were orchestrated by Marquez. He appeared before a House committee during the impeachment of Sereno.

Aside from the 7 individuals, there are 5 candidates vying for the judicial position but their previous interviews are still valid and considered by the JBC. 


CA Associate Justice Oscar Badelles

Photo from the Supreme Court

  • Law degree from San Beda College of Law
  • Appointed CA associate justice in September 2012
  • Served as Iligan City RTC Judge before joining CA 
  • Admitted during a previous JBC interview  that he “cannot recall” when asked what are the elements of the freedom of expression 
  • Set to retire in April 2024

CA Associate Justice Manuel Barrios

Photo from SC

  • Obtained law degree from the Ateneo Law School
  • Appointed CA associate justice in June 2009
  • Presided over Manila RTC Branch 55 and later on 54 before joining the CA
  • Received the Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano award during the 2007 Judicial Excellence Award
  • Began his career in the judiciary as assistant prosecutor in Roxas City, Capiz
  • Admitted during a previous JBC interview that he faced two administrative cases for dishonesty and conduct but were later dismissed
  • Also said he was able to resolve 1,055 cases between 2013 to April 2018 by deciding or disposing 30 cases per month
  • Set to retire in November 2022

CA Associate Justice Ramon Garcia

Photo from SC

  • Appointed CA associate justice in July 2005
  • Said during a previous JBC interview that he averages 80 decisions per year
  • Previously worked as Manila City prosecutor
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice in June 2018
  • Set to retire in May 2024

CA Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier

Photo from SC

  • Law degree from University of Santo Tomas
  • Appointed CA justice in August 2007
  • Shortlisted for SC associate justice in 2016twice in 2017, and 2018
  • Said during a previous JBC interview that Duterte is not an enemy of women
  • Teaches constitutional law
  • Set to retire in November 2026

Davao RTC Branch Judge Virginia Tejano-Ang

Photo from SC

  • Presiding judge of Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court Branch 1
  • In 2014, she issued a warrant of arrest against the suspect in the killing of radio broadcaster Rogelio “Tata” Butalid
  • Said during a previous JBC interview she didn’t know one had to apply to be chief justice
  • Retirement date unknown

– Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.