35 vying for lone Sandigan vacancy

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The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will vote on Monday from a list of 35 applicants for the replacement of dismissed Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gergory Ong.

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Ong was fired over his links to accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

One of the strongest contenders because of his alleged connections in Malacañang is Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano.

His post at the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been perceived as a gift for acting as a prosecutor in the impeachment trial of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona.

He was also the defense lawyer for US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith in the 2005 Subic rape case.

Currently, Justiniano is part of the prosecution team handling plunder cases against three senators implicated in the multibillion-peso pork barrel racket in the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Court insiders, however, say once Justiniano became Sandiganbayan associate justice, he would have to inhibit from the pork barrel scam cases.

Other applicants for the post are Zamboanga City Regional Trial Court Judge Gregorio Valencia dela Peña 3rd, Assistant Solicitor General Sarah Jane Fernandez, Caloocan RTC Judge Aurelio Rambayon Ralar Jr., Makati RTC Judge Andres Soriano and Mandaluyong RTC Esteban Tacla Jr.

Also vying for the post are Tarlac City RTC Judge Cesar Limbo Aganon, Mandaluyong RTC Judge Ofelia Lineses Calo, Antipolo RTC Judge Kevin Narce Batan Vivero and Manila RTC Judge Armando Alvarez Yanga.

Included in the list of applicants are Arthur Abudiente, Jeoffre Acebido, Philip Aguinaldo, Selma Alaras, Rowena Apao-Adlawan, Divinagracia Bustos-Ongkeko, Maryann Corpus-Manalac, Ma. Celestina Cruz-Mangrobang, Henry Damasing, Salic Dumarpa, Geraldine Faith Econg, Berndelito Fernandez, Victoria Fernandez-Bernardo, Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes, Alice Gutierrez, Globert Justalero, Eleanor Kwong, Gernao Francisco Legaspi, Ronaldo Martin, Benjamin Pozon, Jonel Sebastian Mercado, Silvino Pampilo Jr., Benjamin Pozon, Vernard Quijano, Rosanna Fe Romero-Maglaya, Ruben Reynaldo Roxas, Edgar Santos, Salvador Timbang Jr. and Merianthe Pacita Zuraek.

Also on Monday, the JBC will fill up the lone vacancy in the Court of Appeals (CA).

This was the position left by CA Justice Vicente Veloso, who retired on January 7, 2015 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

There are 31 applicants vying for the post, including Pozon, Pampilo, Zuraek, Roxas, Abudiente, Gutierrez, Apao-Adlawan and Bustos-Ongkeko.

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