WITH two associate justices of the Supreme Court retiring before the end of the year (Jose Perez on Dec.14 and Arturo Brion on Dec. 29), the Judicial and Bar Council has been busy -- and the focus of public attention.

JBC’s shortlist is where President Duterte will appoint replacements of SC retirees. A president usually sees to it that his favored choices are in the list. And he’s not bound by the number of votes each nominee gets in the JBC voting.

A Cebuana is in the JBC: Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the lawyers’ group IBP. Another native of Cebu, former SC associate justice Regino Hermosisima Jr., served JBC for three terms.

A Cebuano is one of five JBC consultants: Hilario Davide Jr. Davide (20th SC chief justice), Artemio Panganiban (21st CJ), Reynato Puno (22nd CJ), and two deputy court administrators comprise the panel.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is being criticized by colleagues in the court who allegethey’re being excluded from the process: they don’t vet nominees anymore and were dropped as consultants.

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‘Very good cheater’

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña disparages his rival, former mayor Mike Rama, not by a head-on denial of cheating. He doesn’t say he doesn’t cheat. Instead he says, he (Tomas) “must be a very good cheater or (Mike) is stupid.” Who wants a mayor, Tomas asks, “who allows himself to be cheated in his own precinct?”

Mike lost in his and Vice Mayor Edgar Labella’s political turf.

By cheating, they must mean vote-buying, which both sides reportedly engaged in last May. Vote-buying requires system and skill: where to buy, how much to pay (which must compete with the rival’s going price) and even how many to buy.

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Fewer drug deaths

President Duterte says fewer drug-related killings occur every day. An “Inquirer” list puts the total at 1,775 while other tallies differ.

If there were 1.8 million users in 2015 and 3 million two to three years ago (per PDEA Medyo ubos na figures cited in PDut’s Sona), the death toll is far behind.

Assuming, the president still lumps users with suppliers, drug lords and pushers in the kill list.

[bzzzzz@sunstar.com.ph or paseares@gmail.com]