The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday declared vacant a seat the Supreme Court (SC) that will be left by the early retirement of Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. on January 16, 2016.
According to Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, the JBC has officially started processing of applicants for the post.
The council has set a deadline for nominations and applications–Monday, November 23.
The JBC, headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, can vet candidates for judicial posts.
It has also set a deadline for submission of supporting documents of nominations—Tuesday, December 8.
Te said the applications and nominations with acceptance and with corresponding personal data sheet of the applicant or nominee must be submitted to the JBC secretariat in the Supreme Court building on Padre Faura Street, Manila.
It was The Manila Times that broke the story on the resignation of Villarama via early retirement.
In a four-page letter dated November 2, 2015, the associate justice told Sereno and the other justices that he has filed for optional retirement effective January 16, 2016.
Villarama cited “health reasons” as the main cause for his opting for early retirement.
He had been expected to officially retire on April 14, 2016 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has five appointees in the High Court: Sereno, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Marvic Leonen and Justice Francis Jardeleza.
Supposedly, Aquino should have only five appointees in the SC but Villarama’s retirement affords him a sixth appointee.
Villarama will retire during the appointment and election bans against midnight appointees.
He pleaded before the SC en banc for approval of his application for early retirement after rendering a total of 28 years, 2 months and 8 days in the judiciary.
The presidential elections, which will be held on May 9, 2016, bar Aquino from making appointments two months before the bans or on and after March 9, 2016.