Hilbay, Caguioa vie for High Court post

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JUSTICE Secretary Benjamin Caguioa and Solicitor General Florin Hilbay are among the 16 nominees for the Supreme Court post that will be left vacant by Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr.

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The two officials were in the list of 16 applicants and recommendees submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Villarama filed for early retirement for health reasons. He will step down on January 19, 2016.

The other applicants were Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr.; Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Alex Quiroz, CA Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Mariflor Castillo and Stephen Cruz.

Also in the list were former Commission on Audit chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras 3rd, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera; Quezon City judge Reynaldo Daway, Partylist Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption), and private practitioner Joe-Santos Bisquera.

The JBC screens nominees to vacant posts in the judiciary. It is chaired by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, with Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas and the Justice Secretary as members. But since Caguioa is a nominee, he is expected to inhibit from the screening.

Retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, the head of the Executive Committee, Jose Mejia who represents the academe, retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman of the private sector, and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines are the other regular members of the JBC.

Villarama’s replacement will be the last appointment to be made by President Benigno Aquino 3rd at the High Court. His appointed to the tribunal are Sereno, and justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic Leonen and Francis Jardeleza.

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