The Judicial and Bar Council has begun accepting applications or nominations for the Supreme Court associate justice post, which would be left vacant on June 30 following the early retirement of Associate Justice Edgardo L. Delos Santos.
In an advisory, the seven-member council that accepts, screens and nominates appointments to the judiciary said aspirants have until July 16 to submit their application or nomination.
The high tribunal approved “for reasons pertaining to his current state of health” the early or optional retirement on June 30 of Delos Santos who was appointed by President Duterte in December 2019.
Delos Santos, who has until June 12, 2022 to serve the SC at age 70, was the second justice who opted for early retirement. Then Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta retired last March 27 or a year ahead of his mandatory retirement on March 27, 2022.
Late last year, the SC approved the disability retirement of Associate Justice Priscilla J. Baltazar Padilla.
Apart from the forthcoming vacancy, there is now an existing vacancy in the 15-member SC after Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo who was appointed by the President last April 5 as Chief Justice and head of the country’s judiciary.
There are 15 applicants for the vacant post. Seven of them will be interviewed online by the JBC on June 2 and June 3.
The seven applicants who will be interviewed by the JBC on June 2 are private law practitioner Benedicta A. Du Balabad, Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Rafael R. Lagos, and Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Ronaldo Roberto B. Martin.
To be interviewed on June 3 are Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz, Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko, and Deputy Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva.
The eight other applicants whose previous JBC interviews are still valid are Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez; CA Associate Justices Nina G. Antonio Valenzuela, Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., Ramon A. Cruz, Japar B. Dimaampao, and Maria Filomena D. Singh; Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje Tang, and former Ateneo de Manila University law dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria.
The high court is currently on its decision-writing period until June 11. Sessions in its divisions and in the full court will resume June 14 and June 15, respectively.