AN ASSOCIATE Justice of the Supreme Court (SC), a deputy Ombudsman, and a dismissed judge are the three new additions to the list of nominees who vied for the soon-to-be vacant position of chief justice.

As the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) officially closed off the nomination process Thursday, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Victor Fernandez, and dismissed Malabon judge Florentino Floro Jr. beat the deadline for submission of their application for the post.

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This brings to seven the total number of nominees vying for the post to be vacated by Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who will retire on May 17.

The JBC earlier automatically considered for nomination Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Renato Corona, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Presbitero Velasco Jr., and Antonio Eduardo Nachura.

But Velasco and Nachura declined their nomination, saying that they are not interested in joining.

Carpio and Morales said they are accepting their nomination provided that their names would be submitted to the next President, pursuant to the constitutional ban barring the incumbent president from making appointments two months before elections until the end of her term.

On the other hand, Corona accepted his nomination without ascribing any condition for his acceptance.

Another nominee, Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, accepted his endorsement for the chief justice post, but with the caveat that his name be submitted also to the next President.

With Carpio and Morales declining their nomination, de Castro filed a “conforme” to the JBC signifying her interest to join the search for Puno’s successor.

Prior to being appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the SC, de Castro was the presiding justice at the Sandiganbayan Special Division that tried and convicted deposed President Joseph Estrada for plunder and perjury.

Fernandez meanwhile was known as one of the battery of lawyers who defended Hubert Webb and his co-accused in the celebrated Vizonde massacre case.

Both Fernandez and Villa-Ignacio are set to retire on March 3 and February 4, respectively, from the Office of the Ombudsman.

Fernandez was handpicked for the Ombudsman by former Ombudsman and Solicitor General Simeon Marcelo, who is now a senior partner at the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco (CVC) law offices, more popularly known as “The Firm.”

Incidentally, Carpio was a founding partner in The Firm, before joining public service as chief presidential legal counsel during the term of President Fidel Ramos. He was the first associate justice appointed by Arroyo to the SC when she became president.

Floro was presiding judge of branch 73 of the Malabon regional trial court but was dismissed in 2006 due to “medically disabling condition of the mind that renders him unfit to discharge the functions of his office.”

He was sued by the Office of the Court Administrator which investigated about 13 administrative cases lodged against him by his own judicial staff. The SC found him guilty of seven out of 13 administrative charges and ordered him to pay the amount of P40,000 as penalty.

Floro, who has repeatedly cited in his motion that was he the brightest in his class and graduated with honors from Ateneo de Manila and even landed 12th in the 1983 Bar exams, said the SC should not allow itself to be dictated upon by in a proceeding to remove judges based on the medical incapacity of doctors, whose claims are mere hearsay evidence and thus inadmissible.

He said he could not be held liable for the justices’ emotional incapability to accept his “gift” with empirical certainty.

Among the “phenomena” that he supposedly predicted were the failure of former President Joseph Estrada to finish his term, the 2001 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in the United States and the July 2001 fire that gutted the Malabon Hall of Justice, except his own sala, which he predicted on July 18, 1999.

Floro also mentioned his ability to inflict pain via energy transfer or to prevent forthcoming pains on a specific person during Fridays, on the condition that the person should alter his ways, lest they be punished, and his ability to see his dwarf friends.

He further claimed to have predicted the death of journalists in the November 23 Maguindanao massacre. (JCV/Sunnex)