Palace denies pressuring JBC to appoint SolGen

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MALACANANG denied exerting undue pressure to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and to the Supreme Court (SC) to include Solicitor General Francis Jardaleza in the list of nominees for associate justice of the high court.

In a regular press briefing Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that if the SC decided not to include Jardaleza in the shortlist, President Benigno Aquino III could have appointed another candidate to replace former Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who retired on May 22.

"We did not exert any pressure on—especially on the JBC. As you see, the JBC excluded the name of Solicitor General Jardeleza. And I suppose the Supreme Court had to make a decision on that point because they were also very well aware of the deadlines, which was a day after the en banc decision. So they made a decision based on the appreciation of the petition of the Solicitor General, as well as the comments submitted by the JBC," he said.

"If the Supreme Court denied the petition, the President would have appointed someone also today," he said.

The JBC initially excluded Jardaleza's name in the short list of nominees for associate justice after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno blocked his nomination due to an integrity issue.

Aquino appointed Jardaleza to SC on Wednesday, the deadline for the 90-day period given to him to name Abad's replacement and a day after the SC ruled to include the Solicitor General's name in the shortlist.

Lacierda said that Aquino could have chosen Jardaleza over other nominees because he had worked with the SolGen on several issues being the chief government lawyer.

"On the basis of his work and competence as Solicitor General, that was one—one of the reasons why he chose Solicitor General Jardeleza. He is qualified—credentials-wise, academic-wise, he is qualified," he said.

"As a practicing lawyer, he is also very well qualified. So in his work as Ombudsman and in his work as Solicitor Gene[ral]—Deputy Ombudsman—and in his work as Solicitor General, Francis Jardeleza has shown the integrity, the competence required of the position that he has—of the position that he has assumed in the previous work experience," the Palace official added.

He also assured that the public could expect independence from Jardaleza, who defended the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before the SC during his stint as SolGen.

Malacanang, through the SolGen, has a pending appeal before the SC on DAP after it was partially declared as unconstitutional by the high tribunal.

"When you speak of independence, I think the appointees of the President have proven that. So there should be no issue with respect to independence. With respect to how he will act on the matter of the DAP, motion for reconsideration, let us just wait for his action whatever it will be. So it (is) far from us to speculate or to tell him what to do," he said.

Lacierda said that Aquino has not yet decided as to who will be the next SolGen. (SDR/Sunnex)

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