President Benigno Aquino 3rd will now have his fifth appointee in the Supreme Court (SC) as Associate Justice Roberto Abad retires today after serving the High Court for almost five years.
Abad, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years, was appointed on August 7, 2009.
The replacement of Abad will be the fifth appointee of Aquino in the SC after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.
There are 15 applicants for Abad’s post: Court of Appeals (CA) Justices Rosmari Carandang, Apolinario Bruselas, Stephen Cruz, Ramon Paul Hernando, Jose Reyes Jr., and Noel Tijam and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr.; Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Rafael Lagos; Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan and COA Commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon; regional trial court (RTC) Judge Reynaldo Daway; and Dean Jose Manuel Diokno of the College of Law of the De La Salle University.
Aquino has 90 days from today to appoint Abad’s replacement upon the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council.
After Abad, the next vacancy will be left by Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. who manifested his intention to retire early and to surrender his post—a move that would open the door to the sixth appointee of Aquino.
But Villarama is expected to retire on April 14, 2016 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. That date is covered by an election ban on presidential appointments.
Aquino was very vocal against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s midnight appointment of Renato Corona as Chief Justice and now he is in a similar fix.
The only way to escape the ban is for Villarama to retire ahead of time.
The Manila Times broke the story that Villarama Jr. is being forced to retire so that Aquino could have six appointees at the SC when he steps down.