MANILA, Philippines –Malacañang Palace was at loss on Wednesday on why President Benigno Aquino III failed to appoint a new Sandigan Bayan Justice within the prescribed 90-day period.

“The 90-day period is just a guideline and it’s some kind of an advisory time frame. We have to get more information on the background. We have not yet verified the actual lapse of time, but there is such a guideline, and there is such cognizance that the vacancy would have to be filled up,” Presidential Communications Operation Office Head Herminio Coloma Jr. said via Manila Standard.

Jose Mejia, Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) regular member for the academe, said via GMA Network that Aquino should have already selected a new Sandiganbayan justice to fill the vacancy left by Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who was appointed presiding justice in October last year.

The president is tasked to appoint justices and judges in the appellate and trial courts, including the anti-graft court, within 90 days after receiving the shortlist of candidates from the JBC.

The JBC submitted its shortlist of nominees on February 28 to Aquino, which means he had until May 28 to pick an appointee. Those in the shortlist were five court judges namely Judges Maryann Corpus-Mañalac of the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bernelito Fernandez of the Quezon City RTC, Ronaldo Martin of the Antipolo RTC, Andres Soriano of the Makati RTC, Maria Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta of the Manila RTC; two Department of Justice officials, Justice Undersecretary Leah Tanodra-Armamento and Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III; and Assistant Solicitor General Marissa Macaraig Guillen.

Coloma, however, offered no explanation as to why Aquino failed to meet the deadline for the appointment.