President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed of 21 new judges in for Central Luzon to fill up vacancies in regional trial courts (RTCs), metropolitan/municipal trial courts (MTCs), and municipal trial court in cities (MTCCs) of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac.
The Supreme Court identified the appointees for Bulacan courts as Elenita Alviar (RTC Branch 121, Mecauayan), Lyn Gonzales (RTC Branch 120, San Jose Del Monte), Christina Barroga (MTC, Bocaue), Gail Avila (MTC, Guiguinto), Alvin Lobo (MTC, San Miguel), Emmanuel Benedict Evangelista (MTC, San Rafael), and Gladys Pinky Machacon (MTCC Branch 2, San Jose Del Monte).
For Nueva Ecija, the new appointes are Carlo Emmanuel Ong (MTC, Cuyapo), Peter Kate Maningas (MTC, Guimba), Norma Ramos (MTCC, Gapan), January Mari Garcia (RTC Branch 25, Cabanatuan City), Rosita Torres (RTC Branch 31, Guimba), and Virgin Rose Sharon Encomienda (RTC Branch 32, Guimba).
The new appointees for Pampanga are Hermielita Meneses (MCTC, Sto. Tomas-Minain), Alvin Bautista (MTC, Magalan), Esmeralda Morada (MTCC Branch 2, Angeles City), and Francis Victor Soriano (MTCC Branch 3, Angeles City).
Appointed to Tarlac courts were Elmira Caisido (RTC Branch 58, Camiling), Zulieca De Vera (MCTC, Sta. Ignacia-Mayantoc-San Clemente-San Jose), Karina Kristy Guballa (MTC, Paniqui), and Eric Voltaire Pablo (MTCC Branch 2, Tarlac City).
The President makes appointments to the judiciary based on a list by the Judicial and Bar Council, a body under the Supreme Court’s supervision. In 2019, President Duterte also signed RA 11459, otherwise known as the Judges-at-Large Act, creating 100 positions for RTC judges at-large and 50 for MTC judges at-large.
The measure is meant to address the high number of pending cases before the lower courts which, as of 2018, was at 546,182 before the RTCs and 160,153 with the MTCs. Judges-at-large have no permanent salas and may be assigned by the SC as acting or assisting judges.