Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa has formally accepted nomination to become the next Supreme Court associate justice.
In the matrix of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), a copy of which which was obtained by The Manila Times, it appeared that Caguioa has given his conforme on November 16, 2015 to the nomination made by UP College of Law Dean Danilo Concepcion.
Aside from Concepcion, Ateneo Dean Sedfrey Candelaria nominated the Justice secretary for the SC post to be vacated by Justice Martin Villarama Jr. on January 16, 2016.
Caguioa is a classmate of President Benigno Aquino 3rd at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.
He is believed to be the strongest contender to the SC pos.
A source of The Manila Times said Caguioa was hesitant to get the DOJ portfolio and the SC justice post because he wanted to resume his law law practice.
Another source of this paper said two other top contenders for Villarama’s post are Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo.
Hilbay was endorsed by retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza, a known constitutionalist in the High Court.
Castillo has a direct line to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., his family friend..
He was endorsed by CA Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier.
A total of 16 individuals are vying for the position to be vacated by Villarama, wo had filed for early retirement, citing his deteriorating health condition.
Other applicants are Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang who was endorsed by Sand Beda College of Law Dean Virgilio Jara.
CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. was endorsed by CA Justices Rodil Zalameda, Manuel Barrios and Sesinando Villon.
Also vying for the Villarama seat are Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Alex Quiroz and CA Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Mariflor Castillo and Stephen Cruz.
Non-judiciary applicants include former Commission on Audit (COA) chief Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, DOJ Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras 3rd and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera.
Also eyeing the vacancy are Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 90 Presiding Judge Reynaldo Daway, party-list Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption) and private practitioner Joe-Santos Bisquera (Bisquera Balagtas Law Center).
The Judicial and Bar Council, which is constitutionally mandated to screen and vet nominees to the President for vacant posts in the judiciary and the Offices of the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman, has set a December 8 deadline for submission of supporting documents of nominations.