Judge who convicted US soldier of rape a top contender for tax appeals court justice



MANILA, Philippines—The judge who convicted a US soldier of rape six years ago has been included on the shortlist of candidates for the position of associate justice of the Court of Tax Appeals.

Makati RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon got seven votes, a vote lower than the other two candidates who also made it to the shortlist—Lovell Bautista and Roman G. Del Rosario, who each got eight votes.

The tax appeals court will have a vacancy when Presiding Justice Ernesto Acosta compulsorily retires at age 70 on December 21.

On Dec. 4, 2006, Pozon convicted Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in a rape case filed by a Filipina. In his decision, he stated that the victim was “severely intoxicated that night and was deprived of reason to consent to sex and incapable of sensing or fighting off danger.”

The JBC, meanwhile, also intends to fill up the vacancy at the Court of Appeals as it narrows down its shortlist of candidates to Edward Contreras, who got seven votes; Ruben Reynaldo Roxas and Joselito Vibandor, six votes each; and Makati Judge Sela Alaras, Jonel Sebastian Mercado and Edgar Santos, five votes each.

The JBC has already submitted the names to President Aquino, who will choose from the candidate within a set period of 90 days.

The JBC is constitutionally mandated to screen applicants for positions in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman.

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