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Palace urges Sandigan justices to decline SC nomination

September 14, 2007 6:30pm

Chief presidential legal counsel Sergio Antonio Apostol on Friday said the candidates for Supreme Court justice from the Sandiganbayan should decline their nomination to make things easier for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Apostol said presiding Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, associate justices Diosdado Peralta and Francisco Villaruz Jr - the three justices of the Sandiganbayan’s Special Division that convicted deposed president Joseph Estrada of plunder – should wait for other vacancies.

“Para hindi na maipit ang Presidente (In order to spare the President from pressure), they should withdraw their nomination. Parang iyong nangyari kay Justice (Gregory) Ong (Remember what happened in Justice Gregory Ong’s case)," he said.

Ong was appointed last May 16 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Romeo Callejo.

Ong’s appointment was rejected by the Supreme Court last July 3 over the issue of his citizenship. Ong declined the nomination and the President instead appointed Court of Appeals presiding justice Ruben Reyes.

Apostol said De Castro’s promotion is “long overdue" and that she is “more than qualified."

“It’s a sacrifice on her part..Hindi niya maiwanan (ang posisyon) (She cannot leave the Sandiganbayan) because of the case of Erap (Estrada’s nickname)," he said.

He said De Castro has been short-listed three times for the post of Supreme Court associate justice and Villaruz once. - GMANews.TV