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Bello, SC Justice Velasco lead aspirants for Ombudsman post

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Retiring Supreme Court (SC) Justice Presbitero Velasco, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and five will vie for the seat as the next Ombudsman.

After the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) closed the nomination and application period for the post on May 15, seven candidates have been nominated for the position which will be vacated by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales once her term ends this July 26.

Apart from Velasco and Bello, the candidates include former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and current Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval; Davao City regional trial court judges Carlos Espero II and Rowen Apao-Adlawan; President Rodrigo Duterte’s lawyer Edna Batacan; and the President’s law school classmate Rex Rico.

SC Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, House majority leader and Ilocos Rep. Rodolfo Farinas and Solicitor General Jose Calida were also nominated for the post but have declined.

Morales was appointed as Ombudsman in July 2011 by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who also previously served as LP chairman.

She has served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court (SC) since 2002.

Prior this, she has been trial court judge since 1983 and became Court Appeals (CA) justice in 1994.