MANILA - Minority lawmakers told President Benigno Aquino III's Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza to stay out of the deliberations on the government's motion for reconsideration over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) now that the chief executive appointed him as Supreme Court (SC) associate justice.
Jardeleza, as solicitor general, defended the government's DAP in oral arguments before the high court.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said, "Dapat si Jardeleza di kasama sa MR [motion for reconsideration]. May implikasyon...it will create disunity sa korte. The President appointed a justice na prinotesta ng sarili niyang appointee, si Chief Justice. The SC will be a troubled court after these recent events."
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had opposed Jardeleza's inclusion in the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Aquino is no different from former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in this regard.
"Kung sino nakaupo sa Malacañang, maglalagay siya para proteksyunan ang interest niya. There was expectation on that aspect. It's very awkward. Mate-test ang kanilang [SC] independence. Masusubukan ang Sereno court," he said.
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano said, "Halos lahat ng chief legal counsel at SolGen na-appoint sa SC... By tradition abugado ng Presidente ang pinapasok nila sa Supreme Court. Dapat mag-inhibit siya (Jardeleza) sa (DAP). Tingnan rin natin ang competence ng court. Kung appointee ni Aquino nag-vote against DAP, makikita natin the SC is independent, pag-iisip ng kada mahistrado dito."
The SC vote against the DAP was unanimous.
For his part, 1BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said, "I don't want to tie up the appointment of the new member of the SC SolGen Jardeleza...with the DAP issue. I can only say the SolGen Jardeleza was qualified to be a member of the SC competence- wise. Even in terms of integrity."
Jardeleza is not the first solicitor general to be named to the court. Previously, Antonio Nachura was also solicitor general before then President Arroyo made him associate justice. Former Chief Justice Renato Corona was also Arroyo's spokesman and chief of staff before becoming justice and chief justice.
President Aquino appointed Jardeleza as associate justice of the Supreme Court with his papers transmitted to the SC Wednesday morning.
Jardeleza served as solicitor general since February 2012. He was appointed deputy Ombudsman for Luzon in July 2011.