MANILA, MAY 19, 2007 (BULLETIN) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is welcomed
by JP Morgan Country Manager Frederic DyBuncio (left) and Philippine Stock Exchange
Chairman Justice Jose Vitug on her arrival Thursday at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel in
Makati City. She addressed local and foreign investors and other guests attending the
JP Morgan’s Philippines Corporate Access Days, an investment-generating program
resumed in the country by the US bank after seven years.


Palace waits for JBC to clear Ong’s citizenship By GENALYN D. KABILING (BULLETIN)

MAY 19, 2007 - Malacañang yesterday said it is waiting for the validation of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) whether Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong has passed requirements to become a magistrate of the Supreme Court.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the appointment of Ong was temporarily withheld due to questions on his citizenship.

"We will just wait for the announcement coming from JBC, I cannot make any other commentary," Ermita told reporters during a visit in Taysan, Batangas. Ermita accompanied President Arroyo who attended the necrological rites for a teacher who died in a school building fire last Tuesday.

Asked if the President has withdrawn Ong’s appointment amid inquiries of his citizenship, he said: "It’s still there except that the validation of the issue is being done by the JBC."

He said it would be prudent to wait for the recommendation of the JBC, chaired by Chief Justice Reynato Puno, which screens and recommends a shortlist of nominees for posts in the judiciary.

Last Wednesday, Ermita announced that the President had appointed Ong to fill the lone vacant seat at the High Tribunal with the retirement of Associate Justice Romeo Callejo Sr. last month..

Malacañang, however, announced the next day that Ong’s designation was held in abeyance until a question on his citizenship could be resolved. Ong was reportedly a Chinese citizen. He would have been the 12th appointee of the President in the SC.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joker P. Arroyo said yesterday it is the duty of the JBC to clear the confusion over the citizenship of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong who was recommended to Malacanang as Supreme Court associate justice.

This came after the Palace kept in the freezer the appointment of Ong as a SC member until questions over his citizenship are resolved. The parents of Ong are reportedly Chinese. His Chinese ancestry would have prevented him from joining the SC or lower collegiate courts as the Constitution requires that members of the Judiciary should be natural-born Filipinos.

Ong was quoted as saying he is ready to submit documents to the JBC that he is indeed a natural-born Filipino.

"It is the JBC’s responsibility, in the first instance, to screen all candidates before it forwards its list of recommendations to the President," Arroyo said, adding that "the JBC should clear the air on this matter." (with a report by Mario B. Casayuran)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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