A Supreme Court (SC) magistrate is gunning for the position of Ombudsman, the top graft-buster in the country.
SC Justice Samuel Martires is seeking the slot to be vacated by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who is set to retire in July this year.
Martires, a graduate of San Beda College of Law, was a former judge in Agoo, La Union, prior to his appointment to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on October 15, 2005 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He led SC justices in pushing for the indefinite leave of absence of then-Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
When Martires was still with the Sandiganbayan, he cleared then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of graft charges.
The first appointee of the eventual President in the Supreme Court, he is scheduled to retire in January next year.
Once appointed to the Ombudsman post, Martires will have to go on optional retirement from the High Court.
Martires is the lone SC justice seeking to become the Ombudsman.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens applications and nominations for the Ombudsman post, has received applications from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd and lawyer Edna Batacan.
Bello, who hails from Davao, was a former lawmaker and justice secretary.
He is personally known to Duterte, being dormitory mates during their college days.
Batacan handles cases filed before the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Also vying for the Ombudsman post is Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval.
Sandoval was a former judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila until he was promoted justice of the Sandiganbayan and then presiding justice of the anti-graft court.
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz also applied for the post.
He is the chairman of the First Division, handling plunder charges against former senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
Also contesting the Ombudsman post are lawyers Rex Rico and Felito Ramirez, Duterte’s classmates at San Beda College of Law.
Two judges from Davao City joined the hunt—Judge Rowena Apao-Adlawan and Judge Carlos Espero of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City.
Another lawyer, Rey Ifurung, also wants the job.
SC Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. was recommended to the post while Ilocos Rep. Rodolfo Farinas has expressed interest, but has yet to complete all documents required by the JBC.