MANILA-- The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will interview on July 4 three of the 13 candidates vying for the position of Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Mendoza who is set to retire on August 13 after reaching mandatory retirement age of 70.
Mendoza's vacancy is the fourth in the SC under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who gets to appoint up to 12 justices in the high court during his term.
The 13 aspirants 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., Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, CA Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan, and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo.
Of the 13 aspirants, only three -- Mosquera, Gaerlan, and Gesmundo -- will face the JBC as the 10 others have already been interviewed for previous vacancies.
Most of the aspirants were also nominated for the SC vacancy on the retirement of Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes on July 6.
The JBC has already submitted to President Duterte a shortlist of seven nominees for the Reyes post, which included CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, CA Justices Carandang, Bruselas, Dimaampao and Javier, and Centro Escolar University law school vice dean Rita Linda Ventura-Jimeno.
Reyes earned his law degree from Ateneo de Manila University, Dimaampao from University of the East, Reyes Jr. from San Beda College, Lazaro-Javier from University of Santo Tomas, and Carandang, Bruselas and Jimeno from the University of the Philippines.
It is notable that one of the shortlisted candidates, Dimaampao, a CA magistrate and a UE law graduate, hails from Marawi City, currently being terrorized by rebels from the Maute group.
Dimaampao was a former senior prosecutor at the Department of Justice (DOJ) before he became a regional trial court judge in Mandaluyong City.
He is also the youngest magistrate ever to have been appointed to the CA at the age of 40.
He teaches Taxation, Commercial Law and Civil Law at the University of the East, University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University and Manuel L. Quezon University.
President Duterte has 90 days from vacancy to choose among the shortlisted candidates who will replace Reyes.
Reyes, who will retire in July, is one of Duterte's fraternity brothers in San Beda College of Law's Lex Talionis.
After the interviews for the SC vacancy, the JBC will also hold more public interviews next week for aspirants in the vacancies in the CA and Sandiganbayan left by the promotion of Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Samuel Martires to the high court earlier this year.
Last March, President Duterte named Martires and Tijam his first two appointees to the high court.
A total of 18 among 57 applicants will face the council on July 5 and 6.
Meanwhile, the JBC has also opened another vacancy in the Sandiganbayan for the position to be vacated by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada this September.
The council has set the deadline for submission of nominations and applications on or before July 17.
Ponferrada, chairman of the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, was appointed to the anti-graft court in August 2004. He retires on Sept. 13.
All applicants will be screened by the JBC and a shortlist will be submitted to the President.
The JBC is chaired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, with two ex-officio members -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and legislative representatives Senator Richard Gordon and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who shall have a term sharing seat in the JBC.
The regular members of JBC are retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez for retired magistrates, lawyer Jose Mejia for the academe, lawyer Milagros Fernan-Cayosa for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and retired Judge Toribio Ilao for the private sector.
Source: Philippines News Agency