Martires, Sandoval short-listed; Bello disqualified for Ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three people have been nominated for the post of Ombudsman in a short list finalized on Friday, July 20, by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

The JBC has short-listed the following:

It's official. JBC sends to President Rodrigo Duterte its shortlisted names for Ombudsman: SC Justice Martires, Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, and Bedan lawyer Felito Ramirez @rapplerdotcom — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) July 20, 2018

Rappler's source said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was disqualified. Apparently, Bello has pending cases at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the source added. This is different from a case at the Office of the Ombudsman, which was dismissed in time for his interview at the JBC.

Martires was unanimously recommended by the Supreme Court en banc. 

Martires and Sandoval are already President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees; Martires to the Supreme Court and Sandoval to the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Sandoval is a former presiding justice of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, while Martires is a former associate justice there. Their Sandiganbayan credentials are a boost to their qualifications for Ombudsman, who will have to win cases at the anti-graft court.

But Ramirez also has his connections. He is an alumnus of San Beda Law, and the fraternity brother of President Rodrigo Duterte at the influential Lex Taleonis fraternity. Ramirez placed 7th in the 1972 Bar Examinations.

Bello was supposedly a front-runner for the post during the application process, said sources.

But the Labor Secretary had been hounded by controversies recently, especially after the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) took on a complaint against him for allegedly having knowledge about an extortion scheme involving an OFW recruitment agency.

Bello said his enemies are bent on booting him out of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and derailing his bid for Ombudsman. 

Duterte still trusts Bello despite this, said Malacañang. But his Ombudsman bid ends here, unless he copies the move of Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza who sued the JBC and ended up getting appointed.

Another rumored frontrunner was Duterte’s former lawyer Edna Batacan. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales was vocal about her dislike of Batacan, who ended up not getting shortlisted. – 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.