No surprise: Aquino names Jardeleza to SC | Inquirer News

No surprise: Aquino names Jardeleza to SC

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza takes oath as the new Supreme Court Associate Justice held at Supreme Court Building, Manila on Wednesday. NINO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino had his way.

Saying Aquino believed in the integrity of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Malacañang announced the appointment of the top government lawyer to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.


Jardeleza’s appointment came a day after the Supreme Court itself granted his petition to be nominated by junking the opposition filed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.


Sereno herself raised the “integrity issue” in objecting to the nomination of Jardeleza.

Malacañang, which Jardeleza had sued along with the JBC over a slot on the list of candidates for the vacant 15th seat on the Supreme Court, said the President stood by the Solicitor General despite questions about his integrity and loyalty to country that arose from his allegedly faulty handling of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China in the United Nations.

“That cannot be gainsaid,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda replied when asked Wednesday whether Jardeleza’s appointment showed President Aquino trusted the Solicitor General’s integrity.

Malacañang sent Jardeleza’s appointment papers to the office of Sereno Wednesday morning.

The Supreme Court issued a one-line acknowledgment of Jardeleza’s appointment.

“The court acknowledges receipt as of 9:31 a.m. today of the appointment papers dated Aug. 19 of its 173rd associate justice, Francis H. Jardeleza,” the Supreme Court said in a post on Twitter.


The court issued a press release late Wednesday afternoon announcing Jardeleza’s appointment and a recap of his career, including his more than two years of service in the government as Solicitor General.

Jardeleza took his oath before Sereno early Wednesday night.

Aquino’s man

It became clear on Tuesday that Aquino wanted Jardeleza to get the vacant seat on the Supreme Court when the government’s response to the Solicitor General’s suit, which was also filed by Jardeleza, became known.

In the response of the Palace, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, a respondent in the case, sided with Jardeleza, saying the government’s top lawyer did not receive due process from the JBC.

Ochoa also asked the Supreme Court to order the JBC to put Jardeleza’s name on the list of nominees to fill the vacancy on the court.

The JBC is the body that vets candidates for the Supreme Court. It had looked for a replacement for Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who retired on May 22, and submitted a list of four candidates to Malacañang on June 30.

Jardeleza, who was nominated by University of the Philippines College of Law dean Danilo Concepcion and got the required minimum of four votes from the JBC, was not on that first list. President Aquino had 90 days to fill the vacancy in the court.

In a puzzling move that saw the government’s top lawyer suing the government, his own client, Jardeleza asked the Supreme Court on July 18 to stop President Aquino from appointing a replacement for Abad and put him on the list of nominees.

Malacañang saw nothing wrong in Jardeleza’s move, saying the Solicitor General brought the suit as an ordinary citizen.

Jardeleza’s failure to make it to the list of nominees derived from his stand that Itu Aba, the largest island in the contested Spratly archipelago in the West Philippine Sea that Taiwan also claims and calls Tai Ping, should not be covered by the Philippines’ arbitral case against China in the United Nations.

He ordered the deletion of Itu Aba from the Philippine brief for a UN arbitration panel, but the government’s international lawyers balked, saying the exclusion of the island from the complaint would fatally damage the country’s case.

President Aquino ordered the restoration of Itu Aba in the brief, which the Philippines submitted to the UN arbitration panel in the Court of Permanent Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, on March 30.

JBC disapproval

But Jardeleza’s mistake was stamped on his forehead when he walked in for an interview by the JBC for his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Sereno and Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, an expert in territorial dispute between the Philippines and China who served as resource person on the council, brought up the Itu Aba error, raising doubts about Jardeleza’s competence in international law and where his sympathies lay.

Instead of directly responding to the questions, however, the JBC, in its response to the Solicitor General’s suit in the Supreme Court, said Jardeleza asked that Sereno and Carpio put their allegations in sworn statements and that he be allowed to cross-examine his accusers.

But the Supreme Court found for Jardeleza, directing the JBC in its ruling on Tuesday “to review and adopt rules relevant to the observance of due process in its proceedings … subject to the approval of the court.”

For the first time in weeks, Malacañang was happy with a ruling by the Supreme Court, which incurred President Aquino’s ire when it struck down on July 1 his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

That decision could have set off Jardeleza’s court battle against Malacañang for appointment to the Supreme Court.

On the day Jardeleza won that battle, Mr. Aquino lost no time in appointing him, as shown by the date of the appointment papers the Palace sent to the Supreme Court yesterday.

For the Palace, Jardeleza’s error did not hurt the Philippine arbitration case against China.

“Despite the issues raised by the JBC, the final pleadings submitted and the final [brief] submitted to the [arbitral court] … included Itu Aba. So there was no issue,” Lacierda told reporters.

No issue, either, for Sereno. She administered the oath to Jardeleza in the Supreme Court’s dignitaries’ lounge at 6 last night.

The Itu Aba question now behind him, Jardeleza swore to fulfill his duties “with utmost diligence and honesty, to abide by the law and defend and remain loyal to the Constitution.”

Neither Jardeleza nor Sereno issued a statement, but the Supreme Court issued one through spokesman Theodore Te.

“The Chief Justice and the associate justices look forward to his active, meaningful and immediate participation in the work of the court—bringing justice to our people through its decisions and making the courts more responsive to our people’s needs through meaningful reforms,” Te read from the statement, with the justices still in the room.

“The members of the court are pleased that it is now a full court, and that no vacancy on it has been allowed to remain longer than necessary. The court faces many challenges and much work remains to be done by all of us,” Te said on the court’s behalf.

“We wish Justice Jardeleza success in all his years with us, and enjoin all employees of the judiciary to extend to him the courtesies, honor and support befitting his office,” he said.

Later, Jardeleza issued a statement thanking President Aquino for his appointment: “I am thankful for the trust and confidence that President Aquino exhibited in appointing me to the Supreme Court. Rest assured, I will dispense my duties with competence, integrity, probity and independence—always bearing in mind the interests of the Filipino people.”

Malacañang has appealed the Supreme Court decision striking down the DAP.

Jardeleza is expected to inhibit himself from the court’s deliberations on the government’s appeal.

Jardeleza, 65, will serve on the Supreme Court for five years. The mandatory retirement age in the judiciary is 70.

Before he became Solicitor General, Jardeleza served as Deputy Ombudsman.

He was a longtime general counsel for San Miguel Corp. and taught law at UP.


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Aquino appoints SolGen Jardeleza to SC

TAGS: appointment, Supreme Court

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.