JBC votes today for next Sandiganbayan chief

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THE Judicial an d Bar Council (JBC) will vote today for the top nominees for the next chief magistrate of the Sandiganbayan.

The seven-man council led by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno meets today to cast their votes for the successor of Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz who retired on June 9.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has 90 days to choose the next presiding justice of the anti-graft court.

Several associate justices and executive officials are contenders for the post. They are Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Gregory Ong, Efren Dela Cruz, Teresita Diaz-Baldoz, Alex Quiroz, and Amparo Cabotaje-Tang. Also vying for the position are CA Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas and Presiding Judge Arthur Abundiente of the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 of Misamis Oriental.

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Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento from the executive department is likewise included in the shortlist. Other nominees are Provincial Prosecutor Nestor Tolentino of Bangued, Abra, and private lawyer Jasper Lucero.

The Legal Management Council (LMPC) appealed to the JBC to set politics aside in its screening of candidates.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) allowed Villaruz to receive his five-year lump sum retirement gratuity and terminal leave benefits. The court also granted Villaruz’s request “that his accumulated leave credits be tacked to his service in the judiciary to increase his longevity pay for purposes of retirement and his retirement benefits be adjusted accordingly.”

However, SC defered Villaruz’s request that the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) component of his salary be included in the computation of this lifetime pension and gratuity.

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