Retired graft court chief named special prosecutor

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed retired Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval as the top prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman.

This was contained in a transmittal from Malacañang, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to the Supreme Court (SC) and the Office of the Ombdusman, appointing Sandoval.

In an interview with The Manila Times, Sandoval thanked the President for choosing him from the list of six nominees prepared by the screening body Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Sandoval succeeds Wendell Barreras-Sulit who vacated the post last March 11.


A known criminal law expert, Sandoval was appointed to the Sandiganbayan in 1996 and became its presiding justice in 2010.

He was a judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, now the Regional Trial Court, before he became a sandiganbayan magistrate.

He was the only non-SC justice included in the shortlist for Chief Justice in May 2010.

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 cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and enter into a plea bargaining agreement.

The JBC recommended Sandoval from the shortlist that it is constitutionally mandated to screen and vet nominees to the President for vacant posts in the judiciary, the offices of the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman. It is headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno with ex-officio members, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguierre 2nd, along with the legislative branch—Sen. Richard Gordon and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali—who shall have a term sharing seat in the JBC.

Retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez is the head of the executive committee, with lawyer Jose Mejia representing the academe and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, while the newest member retired judge Toribio Ilao represents the private sector, as the other regular members of the JBC.

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