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‘Pork’ scam prosecutor eyes Sandigan post

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 29, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A prosecutor handling the plunder cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada is vying for the Sandiganbayan seat vacated after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Senior Justice Gregory Ong last September.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano is one of the eight nominees for the post of associate justice in the list of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

He became prominent when he represented US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith in the 2005 Subic rape case.

The Office of the Ombudsman has deputized Justiniano to aid the special prosecutor in handling the cases against Enrile, Revilla   Estrada, Janet Lim-Napoles and others.

In the Subic rape case, he was the counsel of Lance Corporal Keith  Silkwood, one of four US Marines accused of raping ‘Nicole’ in Olongapo City.

Silkwood and his two other co-accused were acquitted and only   Smith was convicted.

Justiniano then became Smith’s counsel when he appealed his conviction.

He was also   a  private prosecutor in the   impeachment trial of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The nine other nominees to the Sandiganbayan vacancy are mostly regional trial court judges: Mandaluyong RTC Branch 211 Judge Ofelia Lineses Calo, Mandaluyong RTC Branch 203 Judge Adolfo Tacla Esteban Jr., Antipolo RTC Branch 71 Kevin Narce Batan Vivero, Manila RTC Branch 173 Judge Armando Alvarez Yanga, Tarlac City RTC Branch 63 Judge Cesar Limbo Aganon, Zamboanga City Branch 12 Judge Gregorio Valencia Dela Peña III, Caloocan RTC Branch 120 Judge Aurelio Rambayon Ralar Jr., Baguio RTC Judge Cleto Villacorta and Assistant Solictor General Sarah Jane Fernandez.

The JBC has set the interview and evaluation of the aspirants on Jan. 6, 7 and 26.

The law requires a Sandiganbayan justice to be a natural-born Filipino citizen, at least 40 years of age, and to have at least 10 years experience as a judge or lawyer.

A justice of the anti-graft court that handles corruption cases of government officials is also required to have probity, integrity and independence just like members of the high court.

The SC dismissed Ong after finding him guilty of gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety for violating the New Code of Judicial Conduct when he met Napoles twice after acquitting her in a malversation through falsification of public documents case involving the sale in 1998 of 500 Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines.

The SC also ordered the forfeiture of his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and his perpetual disqualification from reemployment in government service.

Ong was the first justice of the anti-graft court to be dismissed.               

ASSISTANT SOLICTOR GENERAL SARAH JANE FERNANDEZ BRANCH CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA DANIEL SMITH IN THE SUBIC JANET LIM-NAPOLES JUDGE JUDGE ADOLFO TACLA ESTEBAN JR. JUDGE ARMANDO ALVAREZ YANGA SANDIGANBAYAN
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