Rising in defense of a good man
This is related to the commentary of Oscar Franklin Tan, “The Integrity of SolGen Francis Jardeleza” (Opinion, 7/3/14).
I initially gave no serious thought to the brouhaha over the noninclusion of Solicitor General Jardeleza in the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council’s nominees for appointment to the Supreme Court, knowing that he can very well defend himself. I was inclined, as is my wont, to let things pass—indifferent and uncaring. But Tan’s commentary woke me from my stupor and made me realize that I should add my voice, for whatever it may be worth, to the defense of a good man.
For that is what SolGen Jardeleza is: a good man. I’m not talking about his academic credentials and intellectual prowess, which are well-known in legal circles. I’m talking about his character and integrity—his being honest, humble, kind, with no mean bone in his body. I have known him for more than 30 years and I have not heard even the slightest hint of gossip about any act of dishonesty or unfair dealing on his part—not even the padding of billable time, which is the common disease in the big law firms because they serve as the basis for the lawyers’ bonuses and increase in partners’ units.
It is a truism that “a good man is hard to find.” With all due respect, I think the JBC should not have let the opportunity pass to nominate a good man to the Supreme Court. This is not to deprecate in any way the qualifications of the nominees in the shortlist; indeed, the nomination of Reynaldo Daway, a lowly and obscure Quezon City regional trial court judge, but of irreproachable honesty and probity, is highly and especially commendable.
The JBC should not have dignified the nebulous and unspecified attack on the integrity of SolGen Jardeleza. Like an accused who has the constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, SolGen Jardeleza has the unquestionable right to demand from the JBC that he be fully apprised of the specific questions as to his integrity. And basic due process requires that a man should first be heard before he is condemned.
Like Tan, no bias of any kind moved me to write this letter in SolGen Jardeleza’s defense. Although he was with Accralaw for a good 30 years, I was never close to him. He is a very reserved guy. In Accralaw, I hardly worked with him; he was the favorite associate of the late senator Raul S. Roco, who practically monopolized all his time. Also, he is a Harvard man, and I’m a Yale man.
A word of consolation to SolGen Jardeleza: There’s an old saw, “You can’t keep a good man down.” Who knows, you may yet become a chief justice!
—ROLLY VINLUAN, Accralaw
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