SolGen is petitioner, gov’t defender; Palace to comment on SC case
Even as it found his move “unusual,” Malacañang said it would still file a comment to Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza’s petition asking the Supreme Court to bar President Benigno Aquino III from appointing a new associate justice to the high tribunal until the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) includes his name on the short list of candidates.
“Of course, the ES (Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa) will comply. It’s a matter of filing a comment to SolGen Jardeleza’s petition. It’s just a little unusual. It’s an unusual situation because, normally, the government is represented by the Office of the Solicitor General,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview on Saturday over government radio dzRB.
Adding to confusion
To add to the confusion, it is the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that will be submitting Ochoa’s reply to the petition filed by SolGen Jardeleza.
As the chief government counsel, Jardeleza’s primary client is the President.
“Well, it’s an unusual situation, perhaps the first that we’ve encountered in recent history. But, you know, we’re used to unusual situations and we will proceed as procedure dictates,” Valte, herself a lawyer, said.
President Aquino must appoint a new Supreme Court justice by Aug. 20 to replace Associate Justice Roberto Abad who retired on May 22. The Constitution gives the President three months to fill a vacancy in the high court.
Filed with his personal capacity?
Last week, the Supreme Court gave the JBC—chaired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ochoa—10 days to answer Jardeleza’s petition seeking to stop Mr. Aquino from naming a new justice.
Valte said she believed Jardeleza’s petition “was filed in [his] personal capacity.”
“It’s his qualifications that are the crux of the matter. [To] separate the personal [concerns] of SolGen Jardeleza, the OSG is there as an institution. It will be the one to answer in behalf of the executive secretary,” Valte said.
Jardeleza signed petition as SolGen Jardeleza, however, had signed his petition as the solicitor general and used the OSG’s office address.
Jardeleza had also asked the Supreme Court to direct the JBC to include his name on the short list of nominees for associate justice.
The JBC, a constitutional body, screens appointees to the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Jardeleza argued that the JBC committed a grave abuse of discretion when it excluded him from the short list without affording him his right to due process.
He said he was not informed of the nature of the objections against him, as well as the identity of his accusers, and thus could not defend himself.
Jardeleza’s exclusion from the short list reportedly stemmed from objections made by Sereno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who both cited “integrity” issues against the solicitor general.
Asked if Malacañang was aware of the questions about Jardeleza’s integrity, Valte said she did not have any information.
“I understand that was supposed to have been discussed during the JBC deliberation,” she said.
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