MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III still gave no indications he will be filling up the vacant post at the Sandiganbayan any time soon.
This, amid the filing of many cases in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Aquino failed to fill up the current vacant post at the Sandiganbayan within the 90-day period required under the 1987 Constitution.
Under Sec. 9, Art. VIII of the Constitution, the President has 90 days to fill up vacant positions in the higher courts from the time the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) submits a short list of candidates.
The JBC submitted its short list of candidates to Malacañang last February 28.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, however, explained that the 90-day period is not mandatory.
"We are cognizant of the importance of filling up the vacancy in the Sandiganbayan and this matter is being addressed. The 90-day [period] is a guideline and it's some kind of an advisory timeframe. We have to get more information on the background. We have not yet verified the actual lapse of time, but there is such a guideline, and there is such cognizance that the vacancy would have to be filled up," he said.
Pressed for a time table, Coloma merely said, "The urgency of the matter is sufficiently acknowledged."
The vacant post is due to the appointment of Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang as the Presiding Justice of the anti-graft court on Oct. 1, 2013.
The short list for the Sandiganbayan vacant post is composed of the following:
- Department of Justice (DOJ) Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III, Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento,
- Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Maryann Corpus-Manalac, Quezon City RTC Judge Bernelito Fernandez,
- Antipolo RTC Judge Ronaldo Martin,
- Makati RTC Judge Andres Soriano,
- Manila RTC Judge Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, and
- Assistant Solicitor General Marissa Macaraig Guillen.