Legal analyst: Jardeleza can’t sway SC-A A +A
Thursday, August 21, 2014
(UPDATED) A LEGAL analyst said Thursday newly appointed Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza cannot, in any way, influence his colleagues in the Supreme Court (SC), especially in cases where he defended the government as solicitor general.
"He is the most junior justice (whose opinion carries little weight) and perceived to be the closest to President Benigno Aquino III," said University of the Philippines (UP) law professor Harry Roque in a text message.
Roque's opinion came amid the fear of militant groups on the implication of Jardeleza's appointment now that the government has a pending appeal to the SC decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
This fear may be unfounded. That is, if UP public administration professor Prospero de Vera is to believe.
He said he could not understand why there is an automatic assumption that Jardeleza will aggressively push for DAP.
"What if he inhibits from the deliberations since he was not part of the earlier discussions on the DAP? Then the 'swaying' logic is premature and without basis," he told Sun.Star.
De Vera said SC justices can "sway" their colleagues to their side but this must be based on constitutional principles, jurisprudence and legal argumentation.
Jardeleza justified the controversial economic stimulus package early this year, which was virtually declared unconstitutional last month for improper use of savings and inter-branch transfer of appropriations.
He also defended the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States before the High Court.
Jardeleza has an option to inhibit in these pending cases, similar to what other justices did due to their affiliation to either party and even past involvement in the issue.
"Even if Jardeleza inhibits in the pending cases where he has direct involvement, the Solicitor General's presence in the Supreme Court is akin to putting a spy – a mole – inside the SC, a loyal infiltrator who will continue to report to his client and patron," said Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon.
Ridon called Jardeleza's "11th hour" appointment as a "power play" by the Aquino administration and an attempt by the Chief Executive to undermine the independence of the SC.
"In a matter of hours, poof, Aquino appointed Jardeleza as new justice. How can we expect Justice Jardeleza to exercise judicial independence when he practically owes this political appointment to his client, the president?" Ridon said.
The militant lawmaker said that Jardeleza's appointment will make an "irreversible ripple" in the high court's judicial integrity.
Malacañang earlier assured the public Jardeleza will be independent, just like Aquino's four other appointees in the SC.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen voted against the DAP.
Bernabe also wrote the decision that declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a potent source of ill-gotten wealth for wayward congressmen and senators, unconstitutional.
"With respect to how he will act on the matter of the DAP, motion for reconsideration, let us just wait for his action whatever it will be. So it (is) far from us to speculate or to tell him what to do," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Wednesday.
The SC said in a statement that it is looking forward to Jardeleza's "active, meaningful and immediate participation" in the work of the Court, "bringing justice to our people through its decisions and making the courts more responsive to our people’s needs through meaningful reforms."
Jardeleza promised that he will be independent and keep the interests of the Filipino people in mind. (With John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)