A fraternity brother of President Rodrigo Duterte and a retired presiding justice of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan lead the race for the position of special prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman.
They are among six nominees on a shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the post vacated by then-Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit last March 11, 2017.
Topping the shortlist is trial lawyer Vernard Quijano, a graduate of San Beda College of Law and a fraternity brother of Duterte at Lex Talionis.
Holder of a master’s degree in law from San Beda, he also has a degree in history and political science from De la Salle University.
Another contender is retired Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval.
Sandoval is an expert in criminal law and a Bar reviewer in different law schools in the Philippines.
A former judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila before he became a Sandiganbayan magistrate, he was shortlisted before by the JBC for the position of Chief Justice in 2010.
The four others on the shortlist are Makati City Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon, Acting Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Omar Sagadal, Polytechnic University of the Philippines law professor Arnold Bayobay and former Ombudsman Mindanao lawyer Eusebio Avila.
There were 10 applicants for the position of the Special Prosecutor but the JBC decided to consider only six of them.
Under the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the Special Prosecutor has a fixed term of seven years.
The Special Prosecutor is empowered to conduct preliminary investigation and prosecute criminal cases and enter into plea bargaining agreements.
Then-Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio was dismissed from the service by the Office of the Ombudsman for estafa and was cleared only by the SC recently, after the end of his term.