COA chair among candidates for SC justice

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

MANILA - Fifteen people led by Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan have applied or been nominated to replace Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who is set to retire on May 22.

Tan rose to prominence last year when her agency's special audit on the disbursement of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009 resulted in the filing of cases against lawmakers who allegedly conspired with businesswoman Janet Napoles to pocket pork barrel through ghost projects.

She supported the presidential campaign of then Senator Benigno Aquino III in 2010. A year later, Aquino appointed her as COA's first woman chief.

Tan's colleague at COA, Commissioner Maria Rowena Guanzon, made it to the initial list of applicants released by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the constitutional body that vets nominees for vacant positions in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza is also a candidate for the post, nearly two years after he lost his bid to become chief justice.

He had argued for the constitutionality of PDAF, Reproductive Health (RH) law, Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Cybercrime Prevention Act, where most of the provisions were upheld by the SC as legal including online libel.

Applicants from the Court of Appeals (CA) are CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Justices Nina Antonio Valenzuela, Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Ramon Paul Hernando, Jose Reyes, Stephen Cruz and Noel Tijam.

Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Rafael Lagos, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Reynaldo Daway, dean of Dela Salle University College of Law and chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) Jose Manuel Diokno round out the list.

Diokno, Tijam, Reyes and CA Presiding Justice Reyes previously tried to secure a seat in the SC while Bruselas was part of the shortlist last year for Sandiganbayan presiding justice, which is currently occupied by Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.

"The list is preliminary and is based on the actual receipt of applications as of March 18, 2014. Applicants who filed their applications by mail may still be added to the list if the applications were mailed within the deadline (March 18)," the SC Public Information Office said.

Abad's replacement will be the fifth Aquino appointee in the High Court, apart from Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.

Eleven justices, including Abad, were chosen by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was in power for nearly a decade. (Sunnex)

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