SC recommends Martires as next Ombudsman

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday unanimously recommended Associate Justice Samuel Martires to the Judicial Bar and Council as the country’s next Ombudsman.

This was announced by SC Spokesman Theodore Te in a press briefing after the High Court’s en banc session.

“Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires was unanimously recommended by the Court (Bernabe, Caguioa, JJ., not present) for appointment as Ombudsman. He obtained 11 votes of the 12 Justices who were present (Martires, J., no part),” Te told reporters.

Martires, a graduate of San Beda College of Law and a former Sandiganbayan justice, was the first appointee of Duterte to the High Court.

Te added that aside from Martires, only two other aspirants received a vote from the Supreme Court Justices — retired Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and current Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval with four votes, and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III with three votes.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, an ex officio member of the JBC, said the recommendations from the SC will be noted and considered by the council.

“SC voting is for the JBC’s (information). It is not meant to be a recommendation directly to the President,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.

The JBC is set to vote on the shortlist of candidates for the Ombudsman post on Friday.

As such, in order to be shortlisted to the post, an applicant must garner at least a majority of four votes from the JBC.

The shortlist will then be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Aside from Martires, Sandoval and Bello, also vying for the Ombudsman post are Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Carlos Espero II and lawyers Edna Herrera-Batacan, Rey Nathaniel Ifurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez and Rex Rico.

Duterte’s pick will replace Conchita Carpio-Morales, who will retire on July 26.

Morales, 76, a retired SC Associate Justice who was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III as Ombudsman in 2011.