Members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) have thwarted the apparently latest move of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in what an unimpeachable source said was her “grand plan” to railroad the nomination of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza for a vacant seat in the Supreme Court (SC).
During a meeting with the JBC on Thursday, Sereno was said to have asked the members of the council to proceed with the voting on June 30 with or without Jardeleza from a shortlist for the post vacated by Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who retired last May.
The Chief Justice early this week was reported to have also asked the Solicitor General to attend an executive session of the JBC on that date, which happens to be the Monday when the council will fill up Abad’s seat.
It was learned that Sereno, during the Thursday meeting, presented herself as “objector” and “oppositor” to Jardeleza but without showing the JBC members official complaints against the Solicitor General.
The source said the Chief Justice instead raised Rule 10 of the JBC on the council’s prerogative to reject any and all nominations for seats in the High Court without specifying and giving details on its disqualification of nominees.
Present at the meeting were regular members of the council; retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman, representing the private sector; Jose Mejia, representing the academe; and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
It was also learned that the JBC’s regular members told Sereno not to proceed with the June 30 voting, noting that Jardeleza earlier wrote the SC a letter asking the tribunal to exclude the Chief Justice from deliberations of the council, including those on the next occupant of Abad’s seat.
The JBC members, according to the source, feared that the JBC would be made a respondent to a case that may arise if it proceeded with the voting without giving Jardeleza a chance to be heard and answer questions about his “integrity” as had been raised by Sereno.
They believed that prudence dictates that they should wait until July 1 for the SC en banc’s action on Jardeleza’s letter instead of suffering the humiliation of being stopped by the tribunal to defer the voting through issuance of a temporary restraining order against them.
“We have to wait [for Jardeleza]and see on Monday if we can proceed with the voting or not,” Cayosa said.
The “scheme” being employed by Sereno to oust Jardeleza as a nominee for Abad’s seat
allegedly aims to open the door for the Chief Justice’s preferred candidate for the vacancy— Commission on Audit chief Grace Pulido-Tan.