Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza is the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Photograph by Gel Francisco.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza is the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Photograph by Gel Francisco.

MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Secretary Herminio Coloma, head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said the appointment was transmitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, a day after the tribunal granted Jardeleza’s petition to be included in the shortlist of candidates to the position vacated by Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who resigned in May.

Jardeleza’s name was removed from the shortlist drawn up by the Judicial and Bar Council following opposition from Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

However, on Tuesday, the high court, in a ruling from which Sereno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio did not take part in, ordered Jardeleza restored to the shortlist.

The ruling just beat the Wednesday deadline for Aquino to name a replacement for Abad.

Reacting to the appointment, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said “Jardeleza’s independence would naturally be questionable at this point” because he “now owes Aquino big time.”

“We can’t remember the last time a president exerted this much effort to get someone appointed to the Supreme Court,” Reyes said, claiming that Aquino “exerted extraordinary effort to delay the appointment of a new SC justice until Jardeleza was included in the JBC shortlist.”

He also worried about the implications of Jardeleza’s appointment to the high court when the tribunal has yet to decide on the motion for reconsideration filed by the administration on its unanimous decision declaring key provisions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional.

As Solicitor General, Jardeleza defended the DAP against challenges to its constitutionality.

Following the dap ruling, Aquino attacked the Supreme Court. Most recently, he said he is now open to amending the Constitution, a subject he used to shy away from, mainly because of a perceived need to clip the powers of the judiciary.

“It seems the Jardeleza appointment is still in line with Aquino’s war with the SC if in the aftermath of the DAP ruling,” Reyes said.

“We fear for the implications of Jardeleza’s appointment in the DAP petition now that there is a pending government MR,” Reyes said. “Even if Jardeleza inhibits from the DAP MR deliberations, Aquino has at least one DAP defender sitting in the court that previously voted 13-0 against the DAP.”

Jardeleza was appointed Solicitor General by President Benigno Aquino III in February 2012. Before this, he was named Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon in July 2011.

His curriculum vitae, posted on the website of the Office of the Solicitor General, showed he graduated cum laude from the UP College of Law in 1974 and placed third in the bar exams the same year.

In 1977, he obtained his Masters of Law from the Harvard Law School.

He joined the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz law office in 1975, becoming a partner in 1981 and chairman of the firm’s litigation department.

He left ACCRALAW in 1987 and founded Jardeleza Sobreviñas Diaz Hayudini and Bodegon. In 1990, he established the Jardeleza Law Offices.

He joined Roco Buñag Kapunan Migallos and Jardeleza in 1992 as partner, and headed the litigation and labor law practice groups.

In 1996, he became senior vice president and general counsel of San Miguel Corporation and opted for early retirement in June 2010.

He is a professorial lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of the Philippines College of Law, where he has lectured since 1993.

His other fields of interest in the academe are Civil Procedure and Administrative Law.

He has also been a lecturer at the UP Law Center in Commercial Law, and in various Mandatory Continuing Legal Education forums on governance. He is presently writing a treatise on “The Constitution and the Laws on Libel” as part of the U.P. Law Centennial Textbook Project.

He is a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Philippine Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. In 1997, he was also admitted to the New York State Bar and the US Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. (MNS)