SUPREME Court (SC) magistrates have unanimously appointed their spokesman lawyer Jose Midas Marquez as court administrator, besting eight other candidates for the post.

Marquez, concurrently chief of the Public Information Office of the SC, is the youngest applicant and holder of that position at 43 years old, and the 15th to be appointed to that post.

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Prior to his promotion, Marquez was one of the three Deputy Court Administrators of the Court for Regions I, II, VI, IX and X, and he will be able to sit as consultant at the JBC.

Marquez applied for the position following the recent appointment of Court Administrator Jose Perez as member of the 15-man tribunal.

On top of this, he is also the chief of staff of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who is set to retire on May 17, 2010.

“I never thought of being a court administrator. I seriously considered retiring with Chief Justice Puno. However, the opportunity presented itself. Friends, including other justices and officemates have convinced me to apply so I decided to go for it,” he told reporters when asked to comment about his appointment.

Marquez’s new position has a rank, privileges, and compensation similar to that of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals.

As court administrator, he said the position is crucial in ensuring that the court is “functioning well.”

He will have administrative authority over 27,000 court personnel and of all lower courts in the country. He is tasked to make recommendations to the SC regarding cases involving erring justices, judges or court employees.

“(The court administrator) is the link of justices, and court personnel to the SC… He is tasked to evaluate perceived cases of graft and corruption in the courts, as well as investigate delays in handing down decisions,” he said.

Marquez said he has asked Puno to remain as spokesperson for the duration of the latter’s term.

Among those who vied for the post were Atty. Jose Laurel IV, CA justices Apolinario Bruselas, Court of Tax Appeals Justice Francisco Acosta, Deputy Court Administrators Nimfa Vilches and Edwin Villasor, and SC legal counsel Edna Dino.

Marquez started his career in the SC in 1991 as a law clerk for several justices, among them are retired Justice Abraham Sarmiento, Senior Justice and former Philippine Judicial Academy chancellor Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera, and Senior Justice Josue Bellosillo.

He later on acted as Deputy Secretary of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in 1999 and 2003. He was also project director of the SC-United Nations Development Programme Project on Technical Assistance to the Philippine Judiciary from 1998-2000, which later served as the forerunner of the World Bank-assisted projects and the present Action Program for Judicial Reform.

He finished his juris doctor degree in 1993 at the Ateneo de Manila University where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Economics in 1987. He is also a law professor in a law school in Makati.

Married to the former Liezl Sarmiento, Marquez has two children, Galo, 16, and Maia, 14. (JCV/Sunnex)