MANILA, Philippines - The next Supreme Court (SC) administrator will play a key role in overseeing reforms in the judiciary, including the decentralization of court management and nascent measures to depoliticize ties between judges and local government officials.
The SC administrator's rank is the same as that of a Court of Appeals justice.
The position of court administrator could also be a stepping stone to being an SC magistrate. In fact, the last court administrator – Jose Perez – was just appointed to the High Tribunal last December 2009.
Perez, however, was not the first court administrator to become a member of the SC. Justice Presbitero Velasco also served as court administrator before he was appointed SC justice in 2006.
The contenders for court administrator are the following:
SUPREME COURT STAFF
Jose Midas Marquez
Marquez is a familiar face to the public since he is the SC spokesperson. Aside from being the acting chief of the public information office, he holds two other positions: chief of staff of Chief Justice Reynato Puno and deputy court administrator (DCA).
He has been DCA for the last five months, making him the most junior among the deputy court administrators.
DCA Nimfa Vilches is also in the running for Perez’s previous post.
Before he became Puno’s chief of staff, Marquez was part of Justice Josue Bellosillo’s team from 1995-2003.
In 1998, Marquez became the project director of the Supreme Court and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) technical assistance for judiciary development.
He finished law in Ateneo de Manila University and passed the bar exam in 1994 with a grade of 79.
Vilches is currently the acting court administrator. She used to be a regional trial court (RTC) judge in Manila and a municipal trial court judge in Tacloban City
She applied for Supreme Court justice last year, but her bid was unsuccessful.
She won the Judicial Excellence Award in 2006 and was recently recognized by the Civil Service Commission for her community service.
As part of the Philippine Judicial Academy, Vilches has also trained judges for the past 10 years.
She completed a court and caseload management course sponsored by the UNDP and the Asia Foundation.
She has been in the Supreme Court for more than three decades. She is now the deputy clerk of court and chief attorney.
Dino started as a law clerk in SC in 1974, and eventually got promoted to court attorney before becoming chief attorney.
Dino finished law at UP and passed the bar in 1975 with a grade of 75.
JUSTICES and JUDGES
Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Francisco Acosta
Acosta has been at CA-Cebu since 2006. In 2007, he, along with other justices, were accused by Thelma Chiong of the National Crusade Against Violence of being part of the "justice for sale" scandal, which was marked by the alleged irregular issuances of temporary restraining orders.
Acosta and the others denied the allegations.
The CA jurist has been a partner in the Acosta & Fernandez Law Office, consultant of the Mayor of Taguig from 1995-1998, and consultant of House Speaker Jose de Venecia from 1998-2000.
The 62-year-old Acosta also used to sit in the board of the Philippine National Oil Corp.
He was recently designated chair of the 18th division and acting executive justice of the Court of Appeals-Cebu.
CA Justice Apolinario Bruselas
Bruselas was appointed to the CA in 2005. Prior to that, he served as vice executive judge in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
In 2003, he was given the Judicial Excellence award.
Two years ago, Bruselas, along with other CA justices, were probed about the P10-million bribery scandal, which stemmed from the controversial corporate dispute between Manila Electric Co. and the Government Service Insurance System.
Bruselas, who was part of the division which handled the case, was cleared of allegations of unethical conduct.
Judge Andres Soriano
Soriano is a Regional Trial Court judge of Malolos, Bulacan.
He used to teach in Bulacan State University and also in San Beda School of Law.
He worked for Puno Puno & Carlos Law Firm from 1986-1989,
Soriano finished law in Ateneo de Manila University and passed the bar exams in 1984 with an average of nearly 85 percent.
Judge Edwin Villasor
Villasor replaced now deputy court administrator Antonio Dujua as assistant court administrator in 2008.
Villasor is also an Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge in Pasig. He also served as presiding judge of Angeles, Pampanga from 1991-1993, and was later assigned to Makati City RTC.
He used to be a consultant to an undersecretary of the Department of National Defense in 1990, and was also an assistant counsel of a presidential fact-finding committee the same year.
Villasor also set up his law firm, the Villasor law office. Prior to this, he worked as a lawyer in the Quasha law office for 10 years.
Laurel is the vice president and general counsel of Petron Corp., one of the Big 3 oil companies in the country.
He used to be a director of the PNOC Exploration Corp.
Laurel was a resident Ombudsman at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He began his career in law as a trial attorney for Balgos and Perez law firm, the firm once headed by former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez.
Laurel also taught law at Ateneo de Manila University, where he also completed his law studies in 1981. He passed the bar exams the following year and placed 6th with a grade of 88.
Laurel holds a masters degree in law from Yale University.
Mendoza is both a lawyer and a certified public accountant. She worked as tax manager for two major auditing firms, both of which are connected with Ernst &Young and Price Waterhouse.
She is currently a managing partner of Mendoza Navarro-Mendoza and Partners law and accounting firm.
Mendoza, a law graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, placed 9th in the bar exams in the 1980s.