By: Rommel F. Lopez

Out of 23 applicants, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has chosen six nominees for the soon-to-be vacant post of Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo, who will we retiring later this month.

The shortlist includes four justices from the Court of Appeals (Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., Japar B. Dimaampao, Jhosep Y. Lopez, and Rodil V. Zalameda), one Justice from the Court of Tax Appeals (Ramon Del Rosario Garcia) and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez.

The six bested 17 other applicants, including Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Efren Dela Cruz, and other justices of the Court of Appeals.  Law professor Jeremy Benigno Gatdula and Bureau of Internal Revenue Deputy Commissioner Lanee David, who expressed opposition to same-sex marriage during their JBC interviews, were also not shortlisted.

This is the first Supreme Court vacancy screening process that included a decision-writing exam.

President Rodrigo Duterte will be naming his 10th appointee to the Supreme Court. The president’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court was Henri Jean Paul Inting, a former appellate court justice and brother of Comelec Commissioner Socorro Inting.

Duterte had named two chief justices: Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, who retired last year after serving for 46 days, and Lucas Bersamin, who will retire this October. Bersamin’s retirement will allow Duterte to name his third chief justice.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the president has to fill any vacancy in the Supreme Court within 90 days.