JBC asks SC to junk Solgen’s petition

MANILA, Aug. 13 (PNA) — The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition of Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza to include him in the shortlist of nominees to replace SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad who retired last May 22.

In a 22-page comment, the JBC, through its Executive Officer Annaliza Ty-Capacite, said that Jardeleza’s petition should be dismissed for being procedurally infirm and lacks merit.

The JBC denied Jardeleza’s allegation that he was not given the opportunity to give his side on the opposition of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno on his possible inclusion in the shortlist.

Jardeleza was informed of Sereno’s objection to his inclusion in the shortlist due to questions on his integrity.

He even appeared in an executive session where Sereno asked him about the questions on his integrity.

However, Jardeleza insisted that Sereno put her opposition in writing and that he be allowed to cross-examine the Chief Justice and her witness in a public hearing.

“Instead of shedding lights on the allegations, petitioner did not address the issues but delivered a statement, which in essence, requested that his accuser and her witnesses file sworn statements so that he would know of the allegations against him, give him adequate time to prepare for his defense, allow him to cross-examine, and the procedure be done on record and in public, among other things,” the JBC said in its comment made public on Wednesday.

“Petitioner probably overlooked the fact that the JBC is not a fact-finding body. Neither is it a court, nor a quasi-judicial body. The members were not concerned with determining petitioner’s guilt or innocence or the quantum of evidence against him, which task is within the ambit of the jurisdiction of the courts,” it added.

The JBC also explained that it was not required under Rule 3 and Rule 4 of its Rules to conduct a hearing on Sereno’s opposition to Jardeleza’s bid.

It added that the conduct of a hearing to determine the veracity of an opposition is discretionary on the part of the JBC.

The JBC said that if there are other ways to determine the truth or falsity of allegations or oppositions, it would not call a hearing.

“If the JBC were to call a hearing every time an opposition is received, it may not be able to fulfill its constitutional duty to submit the shortlist to the President on time,” it said.

With regards to Jardeleza’s argument that he should have been included in the shortlist because he received four votes, the required number of votes needed for someone to make it to the list under Section 2 of the JBC Rule, there has to be an affirmative vote of all its members.

“Thus, when Chief Justice Sereno invoked Section 2, Rule 10 in view of some integrity issues against the petitioner, the latter needed an affirmative vote of all the members to be included in the shortlist. Chief Justice Sereno’s vote against the petitioner was not counted. Even then, petitioner needed an affirmative vote of the five remaining members. He only got four affirmative votes. As a result, petitioner was not included in the shortlist,” the JBC added.

The JBC said that Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Reynaldo Daway was included in the shortlist despite getting four votes because his integrity was not challenged.

The shortlist is now with President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The Office of the President has until August 20 to choose who will take Abad’s post, or 90 days from the vacancy last May 22.

Included in the shortlist were Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas Jr. and Jose Reyes Jr., who got six votes each; Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, who got five votes; and Daway, who got four votes. (PNA)