MANILA - Malacañang does not foresee any clash with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) over a list of nominees to the Sandiganbayan, saying the vacancy in the anti-graft court will be filled soon.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB yesterday the Palace did not return the shortlist submitted by the JBC on the replacement for Associate Justice Amparo Tang, who was promoted to presiding justice last October, but only sought help to further evaluate the nominee endorsed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
The former Senate president is facing charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel fund scam, and his endorsement of a justice to sit in a court that will try him raised questions from the Palace.
“It should not be (cause for a clash), considering we did not return the list, rejected or added,” Valte said.
“Previously, there was an issue with JBC, I think it was in 2008 or 2009, because the nominees of the JBC were rejected and returned. That was not the case in the recent issue,” she said.
At the time, Malacañang had asked the JBC for more nominees to the Supreme Court, but the council rejected the request.
On Friday, the JBC rejected Malacañang’s request for it to review and re-evaluate the shortlist it sent last February. The JBC instead returned the list the Palace had earlier given back to the screening body.
“We expect some movements in filling this particular position very soon,” Valte said.
Valte said the only issue was the endorsement of Enrile because a justice must be above suspicion.
Justice Fernandez clarifies report
In a letter to The STAR, former justice Bernardo Fernandez clarified he was not the Sandiganbayan presiding justice who acquitted Ver.
“In the first place, while it is true that Judge Bernelito Fernandez is my son and I was a member of the Sandiganbayan, I was never the presiding justice thereof. I was thereafter appointed Tanodbayan and it was during my tenure that the assassination case of former senator Benigno Aquino came up for preliminary investigation by my office.”
“As a result of the preliminary investigation, probable cause was found to exist and I accordingly ordered the filing of the double murder charge against then General Ver and others,” Fernandez said.
“It is, therefore, an unmitigated falsehood to say that I was among the magistrates who absolved Ver and many others in the 1983 double murder case of Ninoy Aquino and Rolando Galman, the alleged assassin of the former senator. On the contrary, I, through the then Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Tanodbayan, prosecuted General Ver and his co-accused for the murder of Senator Aquino.” – Aurea Calica