Shameless disrespect for the justice system
The way an associate justice of the Supreme Court was recently selected is extremely disturbing. It was done like one was merely buying a piece of candy from a sari-sari store: no need to choose carefully, just get what you want.
It may be water under the bridge by now, but the details should be worth discussing for purposes of exposing an unashamed display of disrespect for what should be our nonpoliticized justice system.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is mandated by the 1987 Constitution to nominate qualified candidates to the judiciary. It subjects aspirants to a careful screening process for the purpose of coming up with a shortlist of candidates truly deserving of the position. From this shortlist, the president may pick his choice for the position. In the event that he does not find anyone who he feels deserves the position, practice has it that the JBC go to another round of interviews for another shortlist.
In the most recent case, the JBC decided to remove lawyer Francis Jardeleza from the shortlist under the strict rule that a unanimous vote is needed for inclusion in the shortlist. It was no less than Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno herself who questioned Jardeleza’s integrity. A petition was made thereafter by Malacañang to the Supreme Court to compel Jardeleza’s inclusion in the list. And Jardeleza made it to the shortlist after seven Supreme Court justices voted in his favor, with two others inhibiting themselves for having raised issues on his integrity.
That decision favoring Jardeleza came out Aug. 19, 2014. On the same day, his appointment was signed by President Aquino. The next day, the newly appointed associate justice was already taking his oath of office before the Chief Justice herself. The events were as swift as no one imagined it to be.
Jardeleza was a long-time lawyer for the Cojuangco-led San Miguel Corp. In the past two years of the Aquino administration, he has been tapped to become deputy ombudsman and, shortly thereafter, appointed solicitor general.
Indeed a favored individual. Malacañang simply had to go through the technical process of getting his name on the shortlist to legitimize his appointment right on the same day the decision was made. Obviously, the choice had been made even before the JBC could deliberate on anything.
A close look at the provisions of the 1987 Constitution would show that the JBC is under the supervision of the Supreme Court—but not under its control. Otherwise, the nomination becomes a useless process. The same Constitution further states that the members of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the president from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the JBC for every vacancy. But it appears that the Aquino administration really had no need for a selection process by the JBC. Void of the technicality, the selection was like it was done by President Ferdinand Marcos who had the sole power to appoint judges and justices during martial law.
The more difficult question now is: Why was it so urgent to have the favored one join the Supreme Court? That should be more disturbing.
Coconut Industry Reform Movement Inc.,
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