Bar topnotcher named acting solicitor general

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has named lawyer Florin Hilbay as acting Solicitor General following the appointment of Francis Jardeleza as associate justice of the Supreme Court (SC) last week.

Aquino signed Hilbay's appointment papers on August 20, which were transmitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The acting solicitor general has his work cut out for him as the Aquino administration has appealed the SC ruling against the constitutionality of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Solicitor General
Florin Hilbay

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), which gives more access to American troops to Philippine military bases for 10 years, was also challenged before the high court.

"I have known him to be competent and he has helped former Solicitor General and now Justice Jardeleza a lot," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in an interview.

Hilbay was the senior state solicitor who helped Jardeleza in defending the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health (RH) law last year.

Ironically, Hilbay did not want to be a lawyer, according to a report by the Philippine Star in March 2000.

He said he was only pressured by his classmates in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to take up law.

Hilbay graduated with an economics degree from UST.

"I hated lawyers because I thought that there was ample room for decency in the profession and that was not really addressed," Hilbay was quoted as saying.

A graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, Hilbay ruled the 1999 Bar examinations, the lowest passing percentage in the test's history as only 660 or 16.59 percent made it to the roll of attorneys.

He also teaches constitutional law and philosophy of law at UP with emphasis on issues relating to church and state and post-colonial constitutionalism.

Hilbay started his career as law clerk to then SC justice Vicente Mendoza before he joined the Office of Solicitor General in 2002 as associate solicitor.

He also served as vice chairperson of Bantay Katarungan formed by then Senate President Jovito Salonga to address issues of public injustice and appointments process in the judiciary.

Hilbay was a Fulbright scholar at Boston College and earned his Master of Laws from the prestigious Yale University in 2005. (Sunnex)

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