Palace wants Sol-Gen included in shortlist of SC justice candidates

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Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Monday asked the Supreme Court to order the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to include Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza in the shortlist of candidates to fill up the post vacated by Supreme Court Associate Justice Roberto Abad.

In a five page comment, the Palace, through Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Aguinaldo said Jardeleza’s rights to due process was violated when he was not given the opportunity to answer the opposition against him by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

JBC is a constitutional body tasked with screening appointees to the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman. It is under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

Aguinaldo explained that JBC Resolution No. 010 allows a candidate to file his comment or to explain his side over a complaint or opposition filed against him.

Sereno opposed Jardeleza’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Jardeleza, in his petition said the Chief Justice violated the JBC rules

Jardeleza said the accusations against him were made by Sereno without informing him of their basis which is contrary to the rules of the JBC.

Jardeleza added that under the rules, a complaint or opposition must be made in writing and under oath, and the candidate concerned should be given a copy in order to be able to file his comment.

However, Jardeleza said Sereno’s opposition was not in writing. He was only summoned in an executive session for another interview by the JBC to which he refused to comply.

Jardeleza was dropped by the JBC from the shortlist of nominees last June 30 despite getting four votes from the panel, which is the required number of votes for someone to qualify for the post.

Aguinaldo said Section 2 Rule 10 of the JBC-009 should be declared unconstitutional for violating the due process clause of the Constitution.

The rule, which was used on Jardeleza provides that when the integrity of an applicant is challenged, the affirmative vote of all members must be obtained.

“This rule appears to be in conflict with the collegial nature of the JBC since the unanimity requirement gives the objector effective veto power when such objector is a member of the JBC…” the Palace said.

“It is respectfully prayed that, in the event Section 2 Rule 10 of JBC-009 is declared unconstitutional or invalid, or the invocation of the rule is held to be improper, this Honorable Court declare petitioner Francis Jardeleza deemed included in the shortlist of nominees for Supreme Court Associate Justice,” Aguinaldo said.

President Benigno Aquino III has 90 days from receipt of the shortlist to select the replacement for Justice Abad who retired last May 22.

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