PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made last-minute appointments of 19 individuals to various judicial posts, including Norberto Geraldez as presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan and four associate justices to the Court of Appeals.

Arroyo signed the appointment papers of nominees just a day before the start of the election ban on so-called “midnight appointments.”

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Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the Supreme Court (SC) received the appointment papers of Arroyo’s appointees late Wednesday night.

Some of the appointees took their oath before Associate Justice Renato Corona because Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio were no longer available at that time.

Geraldez, who was currently out of the country when his appointment paper came out, bested anti-graft court justices Francisco Villaruz Jr. and Edilberto Sandoval for the position vacated by Presiding Justice Ma. Cristina Cortez-Estrada upon her retirement last November 27.

The 60-year-old Geraldez was a former partner of the prestigious Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regalla and Cruz (ACCRA) Law Office.

Appointed new CA justices were Manila judges Myra Garcia-Fernandez, Nina Valenzuela, Eduardo Peralta Jr., and Quezon City Judge Ramon Paul Hernando.

Garcia-Fernandez was the judge who recently issued a warrant of arrest against Senator Panfilo Lacson in connection with the Dacer-Corbito murder case.

Arroyo also appointed Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Maria Cristina Cornejo as Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan, while Deputy Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras Sulit and Assistant Ombudsman Mark Jalandoni were named to replace Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Victor Fernandez, respectively.

Both Villa-Ignacio and Fernandez retired earlier this month after completing their respective seven-year terms.

Also appointed were new RTC judges Paulino Gallegos (Manila), Anjanette De Leon-Ortille (Marikina City), Teodora Gonzales (Malolos City), Dennis Alcantara (Cagayan de Oro City), Bonifacio Macabaya (Cagayan de Oro City), Gamor Disalo (Marawi City), and Antonio Guiling (Marawi City).

Others include Judge Eric Banasan of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Mateo, Isabela and judges Maria Gilda Pangilinan, Janet Samar of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, and Lyn Chua-Esora, Guagua, Pampanga MTC. (JCV/Sunnex)