SC affirms appointments of six Sandigan justices
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - March 14, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Supreme Court has affirmed the validity of the appointment of former Cebu City judge and now Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg and five other newly-appointed associate justices of the Sandiganbayan.

The five associate justices are Michael Frederick Musngi, Reynaldo Cruz, Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, Karl Miranda, and Zaldy Trespeses.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, who penned the decision, has concurred with the appointment of the associate justices, dismissing the case filed last year by the nominees in the shortlist for the Sandiganbayan associate justice position and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

“President Aquino did not violate the Constitution or commit grave abuse of discretion in disregarding the clustering of nominees into six separate shortlists for the six vacancies for Sandiganbayan associate justice,” the decision read.

De Castro ruled that Aquino is not only limited to appoint Sandigan associate justices from the nominees in the shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

“It should be stressed that the power to recommend of the JBC cannot be used to restrict or limit the President's power to appoint as the latter's prerogative to choose someone whom he/she considers worth appointing to the vacancy in the Judiciary is still paramount. As long as in the end, the President appoints someone nominated by the JBC, the appointment is valid,” the decision further read.

It can be recalled that the nominees and IBP filed a case before the SC last year, questioning the validity of the appointments made by former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

They claimed that Aquino violated Section 9, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution when he did not appoint anyone from the shortlist of candidates for the Sandiganbayan associate justice positions submitted by the JBC.

“Petitioners emphasized that Article VIII, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution is clear and unambiguous as to the mandate of the JBC to submit a shortlist of nominees to the President for "every vacancy" to the Judiciary, as well as the limitation on the President's authority to appoint members of the Judiciary from among the nominees named in the shortlist submitted by the JBC,” the document read.

However, the petitioners claimed it was violated. Under the law, they insisted that Aquino could only choose one nominee form each of the six separate shortlists submitted by the JBC (16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21th divisions) for each specific vacancy. (FREEMAN)

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