The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is set to screen 38 aspirants for the post vacated by dismissed Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong.
The Supreme Court dismissed Ong last year after he was found guilty of “gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety” because of his links to alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles.
The JBC has scheduled a three-day public interview of the applicants on January 27, 28 and 29.
Court observers believe that Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano is one of the strongest contenders because of his connections to Malacañang.
Currently, Justiniano is part of the prosecution team handling plunder cases against three senators implicated in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
Justiniano allegedly received the Department of Justice portfolio as a “gift” after acting as 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.