MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will soon have his fifth appointee in the Supreme Court (SC) following the retirement of Associate Justice Roberto Abad today.
Abad, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70, is leaving the SC after almost five years since his appointment on Aug. 7, 2009.
Among the most notable SC decisions he penned was upholding the constitutionality of key provisions in the controversial Republic Act 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act, including the criminalization of online libel.
Abad was former dean of the University of Santo Tomas faculty of civil law before his appointment to the SC.
He earned his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he was in the dean’s list, in 1968.
He was a former trial attorney at the Jose Diokno Law Office before serving as an associate attorney in the office of former chief justice Fred Ruiz Castro.
In 1975, he joined the Office of the Solicitor General where he served as solicitor for 10 years before he was promoted to assistant solicitor general in 1985.
His career in academe began in 1978 when the late chief justice Roberto Concepcion, then dean of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law, recruited him to teach Constitutional Law and Public International Law.
He became dean of the UST School of Law in 2008.
Abad authored two books, “Practical Book in Legal Writing” in 2002 and “Fundamentals of Legal Writing” in 2004.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has started the selection process for the replacement of Abad. It received a total of 15 nominees, including 11 insiders in the judiciary and four outsiders.
They are Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Stephen Cruz, Ramon Paul Hernando, Jose Reyes Jr., Noel Tijam and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, all from the Court of Appeals; Associate Justices Ma. Cristina Cornejo and Rafael Lagos, both from the Sandiganbayan; and Quezon City regional trial court Judge Reynaldo Daway.
Also nominated were Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan and commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon, De La Salle University law dean Jose Manuel Diokno and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza.
The public interviews of the aspirants are set on May 29 and 30.
The Constitution requires candidates for the position of associate justice of the high court to be natural born citizen, at least 40 years of age; and with 15 years or more of experience as a judge of a lower court or engaged in the practice of law in the country. The magistrate must also be “a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.”
Aquino’s appointees at the SC so far are Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.