The Judicial and Bar Council has rejected the request of Malacañang for a new shortlist of nominees for associate justice in the Sandiganbayan division that will hear the plunder case against Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, in a letter dated last June 19, told Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa they are returning the list to the President.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd missed the 90-day constitutional period to appoint the replacement in the Third Division of Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang who was promoted as presiding justice. The replacement will sit as the junior magistrate of the Third Division.
On the shortlist of JBC nominees are: Judges Maryann Corpus-Manalac of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bernelito Fernandez of Quezon City RTC, Ronaldo Martin of Antipolo RTC, Andres Soriano of Makati RTC and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta of Manila RTC; Justice Undersecretary Leah Tanodra-Armamento and Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras 3rd; and Asst. Solicitor General Marissa Macaraig Guillen.
Returning the list to the JBC means that Aquino did not choose anyone and needs a new set of nominees.
But Sereno said they cannot honor the President’s request because the period for him to make the appointments has lapsed.
“We do not read anything in the Constitution that authorizes the JBC, once it submits a list of recommendees, to revisit the same, even under changed circumstances. We also see no process for confirmation by the JBC of any of list of recommendees, if the list has been transmitted officially through the appropriate channels,” the letter states.
Sereno said Aquino must choose from the original list submitted by the JBC.