SolGen makes JBC short list | Inquirer News

SolGen makes JBC short list

Jardeleza deemed to be Aquino pick for SC

UNPRECEDENTED Government counsel as petitioner vs Palace INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Despite the opposition of the Chief Justice herself over doubts on his integrity, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza still won his battle in the Supreme Court.

The high court on Tuesday ordered the chief government counsel’s inclusion on the short list of nominees from which President Aquino is expected to choose a new Supreme Court justice Wednesday, the end of the 90-day window to fill the post vacated by Associate Justice Roberto Abad in May.


Voting 7-4, the Supreme Court elected to grant Jardeleza’s petition for certiori and mandamus against the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the JBC chair and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. The petition sought to put on hold Aquino’s selection of the 15th high court justice until Jardeleza is on the short list.


Issued at 3:03 p.m. Tuesday upon the release of the notice by Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal, the decision was immediately executory.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, effectively junked the opposition that Sereno, the JBC chair, and the rest of the council filed on Aug. 11, asking the court to dismiss the petition for “utter lack of merit” and for being “procedurally infirm.”

Sereno and the JBC, a constitutional body that screens nominees to the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman, also reiterated the discretionary nature of the council’s screening process.

“The court granted the petition and declared that Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza is deemed included in the short list submitted to the President for consideration as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court vice Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad,” Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Abad retired on May 22.

The high court released only the dispositive portion of the decision, rendered after almost five hours of en banc session on Tuesday.


The decision coincided with Malacañang’s position on the matter.

Ochoa’s defense

The defense by Executive Secretary Ochoa of the Solicitor General in his reply to Jardeleza’s petition stirred speculation that Aquino wanted Jardeleza, among all the other nominees, in the high court.

Ochoa was a respondent in Jardeleza’s petition, being the alter ego of the President. In his reply as a respondent, Ochoa took up the cudgels for Jardeleza and expressed belief that the Solicitor General was not given due process by the JBC.

Moreover, Ochoa urged the JBC to include Jardeleza in its short list.


Jardeleza’s petition to the Supreme Court to order the JBC to include his name was considered unprecedented. Although he said he filed the petition in his personal capacity, Jardeleza signed it as the solicitor general.

Moreover, he impleaded his own client, Ochoa representing Aquino, in his petition when he asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order on the President to prevent him from naming an associate justice until his name is included in the JBC short list.

Asked if the President would consider the integrity issue against Jardeleza when he names Wednesday a new Associate Justice, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino’s “choice will be based on an assessment of the qualifications and merits of the nominees, as presented by the JBC.”

Inquirer sources said talk in legal circles was that the President wanted Jardeleza in the high court.

“Otherwise, he [President Aquino] would have appointed someone to the high court a long time ago,” one source said on condition of anonymity.

Three justices did not take part in the vote: Sereno, who had openly opposed Jardeleza’s nomination citing questions on his integrity; Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who had testified before the JBC about the objectionable way Jardeleza had supposedly handled “a very important specific case for the Republic’; and Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr., who was on leave.

Original short list

Because of the integrity issue that Sereno had raised, Jardeleza was not on the original short list the JBC made on June 30, which included four nominees: Court of Appeals Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas and Jose Reyes Jr., Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido-Tan and Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Daway.

Jardeleza fought this through the petition, saying that he was not given due process during JBC deliberations and that the body had committed grave abuse of discretion in leaving him out of the nominees.

Sereno and the JBC, however, said Jardeleza was allowed to respond to the allegations, but “instead of shedding light on the allegations, petitioner did not address the issues” and asked that Sereno and Carpio both file sworn affidavits detailing their allegations.

Jardeleza also supposedly asked for time to cross-examine his accusers in a public hearing—a process that would be inappropriate as the JBC “is not a fact-finding body…[and] neither is it a court, nor a quasi-judicial agency,” read Sereno’s and the JBC’s comment to the petition.

The high court touched on this procedural matter in its ruling, directing the JBC, “to review and adopt rules relevant to the observance of due process in its proceedings… subject to the approval of the court.”

JBC members

The JBC members are Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., Jose Mejia (academe representative), Aurora Santiago Lagman (private sector representative) and Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines representative).

As chief government counsel, Jardeleza has represented the government in major cases pending in the Supreme Court, most notable of which is the Malacañang appeal of the high court’s decision that struck down its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for acting in excess of its powers and for violating budget regulations.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, among petitioners that won the court’s favor in its DAP ruling, noted this conflict.

“What is strange is that Mr. Aquino seems to have allowed SolGen Jardeleza to delay the process so that the latter can be included in the JBC short list. Mr. Aquino seems to have undue interest in getting Jardeleza appointed to the Supreme Court,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement.

“[The President] has allowed the chief government lawyer to petition the Supreme Court to stop Mr. Aquino from appointing a new justice. It is an untenable situation that reflects Mr. Aquino’s ongoing conflict with the Supreme Court in the aftermath of the DAP ruling,” Reyes said.

Originally posted:  7:15 pm | Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


Sol-Gen Jardeleza questioned by JBC on handling of PH’s Spratlys claim

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The integrity of SolGen Francis Jardeleza

TAGS: Enriqueta Esguerra-Vidal, Jose Mendoza, Judiciary, News, nomination, Supreme Court, Theodore Te

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