JBC defers shortlisting Sandiganbayan top post

Ace Tamayo

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Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. requests for the postponement 'until after congress has resumed to resolve the matter of representation'

File photo of the Sandiganbayan building in Quezon City. AFP / Romeo Gacad

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council deferred on Monday, July 1, its voting to shortlist the candidates vying for the top post of the Sandiganbayan.

In a text message to Rappler, JBC academe representative Jose Mejia said Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. requested for the postponement “until after Congress has resumed to resolve the matter of representation.”

“The Supreme Court decided that Senate and lower house can only have one representative so they have to decide how to representation is to be made considering that they are two separate bodies,” Mejia said.

In April, the Supreme Court junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Tupas and Sen. Francis Escudero and upheld an earlier ruling limiting the number of congressional representative in the JBC to one.

Read: SC: Congress only has one seat in JBC

The JBC has already interviewed 9 candidates for the post on May 20 and 21 after the 10th candidate, law practitioner Jasper M. Lucero was disqualified after failing to submit necessary documents before the interview. 

Among the Sandiganbayan insiders interviewed were Associate Justices Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos, Efren N. dela Cruz, Gregory S. Ong, Alex L. Quiroz, and Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tan and Court of Appeals Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas. 

Meanwhile, the “outsiders” or the ones who do not belong to the judiciary include Justice Undersecretary Leah C. Tanodra-Armamento, Interior Undersecretary Rafael Antonio M. Santos, and Abra provincial prosecutor Nestor S. Tolentino.

Read: More than 10 want to be chief of graft court

Only 5 out of the 7 members of the JBC interviewed the candidates, led by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serreno. Ex officio members Justice Secretary de Lima and Iloilo Rep Niel Tupas Jr or Sen Chiz Escudero were not able to join the interviews. 

Also present in the interview were regular members Jose Mejia, representing the academe; lawyer Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; retired Supreme Court Justice representative Regino Hermosisima; and retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman, representing the private sector. 

The top post of the Sandiganbayan became vacant when Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz Jr retired June 8, when he turned 70. – Rappler.com 

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