MANILA - Newly appointed Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Friday visited his new office a day after his appointment.
President Rodrigo Duterte picked Martires, a Supreme Court associate justice, to succeed Conchita Carpio Morales who finished her 7-year term on Wednesday.
Prior to his appointment, Martires was endorsed by 11 justices of the high court to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body tasked to screen applicants for the post.
Given his appointment to the Ombudsman post, the 69-year-old Martires will have to go on early retirement from the judiciary as he has yet to reach the mandatory age of retirement of 70.
He will serve a 7-year term.
Martires obtained his law degree from San Beda College, the President's alma mater.
He served as a trial court judge in Agoo, La Union prior to his appointment to the Sandiganbayan on October 15, 2005 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In 2011, Martires penned the Sandiganbayan decision that junked graft charges against then-Davao City Mayor Duterte over the demolition of a park built by his political rival, Prospero Nograles.
A year later, Martires wrote the Sandiganbayan decision dismissing a P50-billion damage suit filed by the Philippine government 24 years later against the Marcoses, former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin and several others in relation to the so-called Binondo Central Bank (BCB) during martial law.
He was also among the Sandiganbayan justices who handed down the decision approving the plea bargain deal entered into by alleged plunderer retired Major General Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Earlier this year, Martires joined the majority of Supreme Court magistrates who voted for the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice via a grant of Solicitor General Jose Calida's "quo warranto" petition.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News after the President announced his appointment, Martires said news of him as the next Ombudsman has not sunk in yet but noted that he expects a lot of work to be done.
He quipped: "Who isn't ready for it?"
For his part, Liberal Party president and Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said they trust Martires will be "at the helm of an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office that will not condone abuses and corruption of public officials, both allies and critics of the administration.
"We hope Ombudsman Martires will not be a tool of anyone, and will go after corrupt officials by building a strong case backed by evidence," he added.
More details to follow.