Aquino has until March to name next SC justice

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd must appoint the next Supreme Court (SC) associate justice between the retirement day of Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. and the start of the appointments ban in connection with the 2016 polls.

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Under the 1987 Constitution, the President shall appoint within 90 days the replacement of Villarama, or between January 16, 2016 and March 8, 2016.

The Constitution requires too that the President name other appointees also 90 days before the next national elections on May 9, 2016.

In the case of Arturo de Castro against the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given authority by the SC en banc to make “midnight appointments.”

In this case, the High Court ruled appointment of SC justices is exempted from the election ban.

Upon assumption to office as the new President in 2010, Benigno Aquino 3rd questioned Arroyo’s appointment of Renato Corona as Chief Justice, calling it a “midnight appointment.”

Villarama is supposed to retire in April 2016 but has pleaded before the SC en banc for approval of his application for early retirement after rendering service for a total of 28 years, 2 months and 8 days in the judiciary.

The JBC has set dates for interview of applicants for the SC post.

Aquino already has five appointees in the High Court: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes-Sereno, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Marvic Leonen and Justice Francis Jardeleza.

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