MANILA, Philippines – The screening continues for magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) as the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) schedules on July 4 the next round of interviews for a slot at the bench of the High Court.
The vacancy is for Associate Justice Jose Mendoza who will retire on August 13. Whoever will be picked from this batch will be President Rodrigo Duterte's 4th appointee to the SC.
His 3rd appointee, replacing retiring Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, has not been named yet but the JBC has already sent Duterte a shortlist which is made up mostly of Court of Appeals justices.
The JBC will interview on July 4 only 3 out of the 13 nominees, because the rest had already been previously interviewed.
The 3 are: Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo, and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera.
Justice Gaerlan is from San Beda Law batch 1958. He is with the CA 12th Division which acquitted Janet Lim Napoles of serious illegal detention last May. He was appointed to the CA in 2009 by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Justice Gesmundo is the chairperson of the anti-graft court's 7th division. Gesmundo was already nominated to the SC back in 2009 but he lost the slot to Associate Justice Jose Perez, who retired in December. Gesmundo's colleague in the Sandiganbayan, Associate Justice Samuel Martires replaced Perez in March and became Duterte's 1st appointee to the SC.
Gesmundo is a former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), appointed to the Sandiganbayan by Arroyo.
Mosquera, on the other hand, is also a former PCGG commissioner appointed Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon by former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Mosquera was shortlisted to be Ombudsman then but Aquino eventually picked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
The other 10 nominees are the same nominees for Justice Reyes' vacancy. Those who did not make it to that shortlist are nominated again for this round.
The other 10 nominees are: CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr; Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr, Apolinario Bruselas Jr, Rosmari Carandang, Stephen Cruz, Japar Dimaampao, Ramon Paul Hernando, Amy Lazaro-Javier and Jose Reyes Jr; and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.
After these two latest appointments, Duterte will get to appoint 8 more to the High Court.
The changes in the SC come amid highly controversial issues awaiting their decision. The SC is yet to decide on the petition of detained Senator Leila de Lima.