By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), chaired by Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona, will start screening the 27 aspirants for the next two would-be appointees of President Benigno S. Aquino III to the highest court of the land.
The JBC is composed of six members, including Corona, as chairman with Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima, Senator Francis Escudero, House Justice Committee Chairman and Iloilo City Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., retired SC Associate Justice Regino Hermosisima and retired Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Aurora Lagman, as members.
The first appointee of President Aquino to the SC is Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Serreno.
The vacancies in the SC will occur with the retirement in June this year of SC Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo Nachura and Conchita Carpio-Morales.
The JBC on Monday set in its agenda the screening of the 27 applicants for two SC posts such as 16 CA justices, two anti-graft court Sandiganbayan justices, two Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) justices, one Constitutional Commission delegate, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner and several law practitioners.
At the CA, two Muslim justices are seeking their appointment by President Aquino to have their representation for the Muslim minority in the SC, namely Associate Justices Hakim Abdulwahid and Japar Dimaampao.
Also seeking the post is CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr., along with Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr., Estela Perlas Bernabe, Apolinario Bruselas Jr., Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo, Stephen Cruz, Magdangal De Leon, Isaias Dicdican, Remedios Salazar-Fernando, Portia Alino-Hormachuelos, Bienvenido Reyes, Jose Reyes Jr., Noel Tijam and Vicente Veloso.
From the Sandiganbayan, the applicants are Associate Justices Francisco Villaruz and Alex Quiroz. At the CTA, the aspirants are Associate Justices Lovell Bautista and Juanito Castaneda Jr.
Constitutionalist and 1968 Bar topnotcher Rodolfo Robles who was previously shortlisted by the JBC tries his luck again, along with Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.
Other aspirants are University of the Philippines (UP) Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, law practitioner Tomas Cabili, and law books author Francis Jardeleza.
Also applying to become SC justice are Deputy Court Administrator Nimfa Vilches and Binan, Laguna Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Marino Rubia.
The JBC is expected to tackle in the agenda today the date of interview of the said applicants and decide whether or not they will cut short the listing of the 27 applicants before voting for their shortlist which shall be submitted to President Aquino.
Likewise, the JBC is still waiting for the ad interim appointment of former DOJ Secretary Artemio Tuquero who shall represent the academe and the new appointment for the replacement of the late Atty. J. Conrado Castro of the IBP, who recently died in a vehicular accident.