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Who’s who: Candidates vying to replace SC justice Jose Mendoza

The Judicial and Bar Council considers 13 candidates for the post to be vacated by retiring SC justice Jose Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is set to hold panel interviews on Tuesday, July 4, for candidates vying for the position of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Jose Mendoza.

Mendoza is set to retire on August 13, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

The JBC is tasked to vet the applicants and submit a shortlist to President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the Judicial and Bar Council works)

Here’s a quick profile of the 13 candidates.

Samuel Gaerlan

  • Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice, 12th Division
  • Law degree from San Beda College
  • Prior to his appointment to the CA in 2009, he was the presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Bangar, La Union; Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 26 of San Fernando City, La Union; and RTC Branch 92 of Quezon City
  • Previously served as public attorney and a private law practitioner of various companies
  • Concurred in the CA ruling that acquitted alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in her serious illegal detention case
  • Awarded for judicial excellence in 2007

Alexander Gesmundo

  • Sandiganbayan Associate Justice and chairperson of the 7th Division
  • Law degree from Ateneo Law School
  • Co-chairs the anti-graft court’s Committee on Rules
  • Previously served as trial attorney and later assistant solicitor general for the Office of the Solicitor General
  • Former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government
  • Applied for an SC post in 2009
  • Penned the ruling convicting former San Vicente, Palawan mayor Vicente Villapando for ghost delivery of cement
  • Penned the ruling convicting two retired and 7 active police officials for graft in connection with P38 million worth of ghost purchases in 1992
  • Concurred with the 2014 ruling dismissing the falsification of public documents case against former justice secretary Hernando Perez
  • Was part of the team of magistrates that blocked former National Economic and Development Authority director general Romulo Neri from testifying against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the NBN-ZTE deal
  • Was a member of the Sandiganbayan 5th Division who had asked to inhibit from the pork barrel scam case of detained former senator Jinggoy Estrada

Gerard Mosquera

  • Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon
  • Law degree from Ateneo Law School
  • Has a Masters of Law degree from Kings College London and a Masters of Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
  • Appointed Deputy Ombudsman in 2012, replacing Francis Jardeleza who had been appointed Solicitor General
  • Served as commissioner and legal department head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government from 2010 to 2012
  • From 2004 to 2010, served as a United Nations Adviser for Anti-Corruption and was Chief of Party of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded anti-corruption project in East Timor
  • Grandson of former justice secretary Quirico Abeto

Ten of the candidates will no longer be interviewed, as their previous interviews are still valid:

Ramon Bato Jr

  • CA Associate Justice and chairperson, 11th Division
  • Law degree from Silliman University
  • Before his appointment to the CA in 2004, he was a court attorney at the SC, a municipal trial court judge in Imus, Cavite; and an RTC judge in Dumaguete City
  • Co-founded and organized the Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer-Employees and was elected its first vice president and later president in 1991
  • Became a subject of a complaint in 2008, where he was accused of "illegal, scandalous and anomalous" conduct in handling a case. The SC dismissed the complaint.
  • Wrote the decision dismissing the double murder case against then-police chief Panfilo Lacson over the Dacer-Corbito killings in 2000
  • Applied for an SC post in 2011, but was unsuccessful

Apolinario Bruselas Jr

  • CA Associate Justice and chairperson, 13th Division
  • Law degree from the University of the Philippines
  • Prior to his appointment to the CA in 2005, he used to work at the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Quezon City RTC
  • He was nominated in 2013 as candidate for the Sandiganbayan presiding justice vacancy, but lost to Amparo Cabotaje-Tang
  • Previously shortlisted for a vacancy in the SC thrice – in 2011, 2014, and 2016
  • Awarded for judicial excellence in 2003

Rosmari Carandang

  • CA Associate Justice and chairperson, 3rd Division
  • Law degree from the University of the Philippines
  • Placed 9th in the 1975 Bar examination
  • Nominated for a vacancy in the Supreme Court 4 times – in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016 – but did not get chosen
  • Previously served as a Manila RTC judge
  • Became a subject of a complaint in 2008 and was alleged to have asked for money before she ruled in favor of the complainant in a case

Stephen Cruz

  • CA Associate Justice and senior member, 4th Division
  • Law degree from Ateneo Law School
  • Previously served as a presidential staff legal officer and lawyer for various major corporations
  • Before his appointment to the CA in 2006, he was presiding judge of the Lucena City RTC Branch 60
  • Earned the Quezon Gintong Medalya ng Karangalan in 2008
  • Penned the 2015 resolution that asked Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to comment on the contempt charge filed by ousted Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr

Japar Dimaampao

  • CA Associate Justice and chairperson, 7th Division
  • Law degree from University of the East College of Law
  • Law professor specializing in commercial law and taxation
  • Applied for SC post in 2016, and during his interviews, he vowed to enrich jurisprudence on sharia laws

Ramon Paul Hernando

  • CA Associate Justice and junior member, 3rd Division
  • Law degree from San Beda College of Law
  • Before his appointment to the CA in 2010, he was a trial court judge for nearly 7 years
  • Previously served as a state prosecutor with the Department of Justice for 5 years
  • Taught commercial law, civil law, and remedial law in several law schools
  • Applied for a vacancy in the SC in 2014

Amy Lazaro-Javier

  • CA Associate Justice and senior member, 8th Division
  • Law degree from University of Sto Tomas
  • Joined the Office of the Solicitor General in 1983 as trial attorney, and later became Assistant Solicitor General in 1994
  • Appointed to the CA in 2007

Jose Midas Marquez

  • Current SC court administrator
  • Former chief of the SC Public Information Office
  • Nominated by the Philippine Judges Association
  • Earned BA Economics degree in 1987 and Juris Doctor degree in 1993 from the Ateneo de Manila University. Admitted to the Bar in 1994.
  • Started career in SC in 1991 as a summer apprentice doing legal research in the office of one associate justice while still a student, then became a regular law clerk of several SC justices

Andres Reyes Jr

  • CA Presiding Justice and chairperson, 1st Division
  • Law degree from Ateneo Law School
  • Also holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Philippine Women’s University
  • After law school, worked at the Office of the Ombudsman
  • Appointed judge of Metropolitan Trial Court in Makati in 1987, and judge of Metropolitan Trial Court in San Mateo, Rizal in 1990
  • Appointed as CA associate justice in 1999, and promoted to presiding justice in 2010
  • Nominated for a vacancy in the SC in 2014 and 2016, but lost
  • Grandson of former SC justice Alex Reyes, and son of former CA presiding justice Andres Reyes Sr

Jose Reyes Jr

  • CA Associate Justice and chairperson, 4th Division
  • Law degree from San Beda College
  • Appointed to the CA in 2003
  • Before CA, he worked as a Metropolitan Trial Court judge in Pasig and RTC judge in Rizal
  • Was a candidate for a vacancy in the SC in 2012, 2014, and 2016, but lost on all occasions
  • Accused by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of accepting a bribe just to stop the suspension of former Makati City mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr

– with earlier reports from Rey Santos Jr, Aries Rufo, and Jee Geronimo / Rappler.com