The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the nomination of Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires as Ombudsman, after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales retires on July 26.
Martires got the support of 11 of the 12 SC associate justices who were present during the regular en banc session Tuesday. He did not take part during the voting, while Associate Justices Alfredo Caguioa and Estela Bernabe were absent.
Four justices voted for special prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, while three voted for Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Martires, who was President Rodrigo Duterte’s first appointee to the high court, will reach the mandatory age of retirement of 70 in the judiciary on Jan. 2, 2019.
Should President Duterte appoint him as the next Ombudsman, Martires would have to go on early retirement.
The Judicial and Bar Council is set to release on July 20 its shortlist of nominees for Ombudsman post.
To be included in the shortlist are the candidates who will receive at least four votes from the panel members.
The JBC, concurrently chaired by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, is constitutionally tasked to screen applicants and come up with a shortlist of nominees for vacancies in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman and recommends appointees to the Office of the President.
Besides Carpio, the JBC is also composed of ex-officio members Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Senator Richard Gordon, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Its regular members include retired Supreme Court associate justice Jose Catral Mendoza, who represents the justices; lawyer Jose Mejia, who represents the academe; lawyer Milagros Fernan-Cayosa; who represents the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and retired Judge Toribio Ilao, who represents the private sector.
Nine candidates have been interviewed and passed prequalification requirements including Martires, Bello, and Sandoval.
The other candidates include Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, lawyers Edna Herrera-Batacan, Rey Nathaniel Ifurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez, Rex Rico and Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Espero II.
The JBC will submit its shortlist to the President, who has 90 days to fill the position upon vacancy.