Special Prosecutor Sandoval applies for Ombudsman post

MANILA, Philippines – Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval has applied for the post of Ombudsman, which will be vacant when Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales retires in July.

Sandoval, a former justice at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, told reporters that the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) received his application on May 3. He is the first one to confirm his interest in the post.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro has been nominated to the post but she has to agree to the nomination before she would be considered.

Sandoval said he refused offers from people to nominate him, and opted to apply on his own.

"I want to be clear, na just in case may public officer na nagnominate sa akin, mabebeholden ako (in the event that a public officer nominates me, I will become beholden). So I applied," Sandoval said.

Who is Sandoval?

Sandoval is the head of graft prosecutors of the Office of the Special Prosecutor or OSP. The OSP is the prosecutorial arm of the Office of the Ombudsman.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed him as special prosecutor in July 2017 and has a fixed 7-year term until 2024 if he stays in his position. Sandoval was a presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan, where he served for 14 years.

In less than a year as special prosecutor, Sandoval's biggest cases involved attempting to overturn the bail grant of former senator Jinggoy Estrada, and opposing the witness protection of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

At the Sandiganbayan, Sandoval's most controversial case was the plea bargain deal of retired Major General Carlos Garcia, the former military comptroller who was accused of corruption. Sandoval voted to grant bail to Garcia, but lost to a majority vote at the Sandiganbayan's Second Division.

Garcia then struck a plea bargain deal  with Sandoval's predecessor, former special prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit, which was eventually upheld by a different set of Sandiganbayan justices.

Next Ombudsman

The JBC has extended its deadline for applications to May 15.

Morales will retire on July 26. She said the most important trait of an Ombudsman is integrity.

"One has to be impervious to pressure. One has to have integrity. You may be the brightest fellow in the world, but if you don't have integrity then forget it," the Ombudsman said

"You have to have confidence and you have to have integrity," she added.

Morales' message to her successor? "Work begins at sunrise and ends at sundown. Even if you work on Saturdays, you will not be able to finish your work." – Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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