SOLICITOR General Francis Jardeleza has stepped up his fight not only with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who had allegedly railroaded his nomination to deny him a shot at a vacancy in the Supreme Court (SC), but also with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
In his petition for certiorari and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining order (TRO), Jardeleza on Friday asked the SC “to declare Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and the JBC “as having acted in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in not including [him]in the shortlist of nominees transmitted to the President on June 30, 2014.”
The JBC picks from a shortlist of nominees for vacancies in the tribunal and is headed by the Chief Justice.
Also in his petition, the Solicitor General urged the court to “direct the JBC to include him in the shortlist of nominees for SC Associate Justice [vacated by]vice Justice Roberto A. Abad[.]”
Abad retired in May this year.
Jardeleza also sought a TRO, “ordering the President, through Executive [Secretary] Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., to desist from appointing an Associate Justice [vice Justice Abad], pending determination of the merits of [the case].”
The Solicitor General obtained a majority vote from the JBC that voted on the shortlist last month but he was disqualified from contesting the vacant seat in the SC at the behest of Sereno.
The JBC submitted to Malacañang just four names from the shortlist: Court of Appeals Justices Jose Reyes and Apolinario Bruselas, Commission on Audit chief Gracia Pulido-Tan and Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Rogelio Daway.
It indicated that while one nominee [Jardeleza] had garnered a majority vote, the nominee’s name was not included in the shortlist because of the invocation of Rule 10, Section 2, of the JBC rules.
The rule can be raised on a whim by any JBC member—in this case, Sereno—who would like to disqualify a candidate due to questions of integrity.
The “majority vote” for Jardeleza meant that at least four JBC members favored him.
The council had proceeded with the voting on the shortlist for the post vacated by Abad despite pendency of a letter-petition filed by Jardeleza against Sereno at the SC.
The tribunal issued a resolution stating that the letter-petition will be “noted” but that the Solicitor General will be given a chance to file a new petition “without prejudice” in filing a new case against the Chief Justice.
SC Justice Arturo Brion bared the “railroading” made by Sereno to oust Jardeleza from the JBC shortlist for the High Court vacancy.
Brion, in his dissenting opinion, disagreed with the majority’s decision in the 15-man tribunal to render the letter-petition filed by Jardeleza as moot and academic since the JBC had transmitted the list of nominees to the Office of the President.
Brion dissented from the majority ruling because he believed that it was a conclusion based on a very superficial reading of the letter-petition and that the majority failed to consider the substantive content of Jardeleza’s plea.
He accused Sereno of sitting on Jardeleza’s letter-petition as he took note of the court’s record that the letter was received on June 25, 2014 but was raffled off only on July 1, 2014, a day after the JBC members had cast their votes for those on the shortlist.