MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza responded to questions on his past links to San Miguel Corp (SMC) when he faced the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Tuesday, July 24.
In an opening statement, Jardeleza said the Supreme Court “is the guardian of the rule of law” and that he would rather not classify himself as a liberal or conservative. In the end, he said, his vision is for the SC to become “independent [and] earns the trust of the people as guardian of the rule of law.”
Jardeleza served as a longtime counsel of SMC when it was still owned and controlled by businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr, uncle of President Benigno Aquino III.
When Mr Aquino became president, he named Jardeleza as deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, an appointment that also made him face the JBC. He was also nominated once before to the position of SC associate justice.
After a 7-month stint in the Ombudsman, he was appointed Solicitor General in February 2012.
Retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima asked him if he was privy to details of the coco levy fund case which involves Cojuangco. Jardeleza clarified that he was not involved in the case but only in SMC legal cases.
But SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, JBC presiding officer, told him that as a former corporate secretary of SMC he must have been aware of the shares owned by Cojuangco in relation to the coco levy fund, to which Jardeleza said yes.
Peralta also questioned Jardeleza’s experience given the magnitude of work facing a chief justice as the chief administrator of the judiciary. Peralta said experience is a key qualification. The SC deals with at least 300 cases a day, according to him.
“With all due respect, experience is not indispensable,” Jardeleza said, adding that he had experience dealing with budgets of corporations and the Ombudsman. “With all humility I have coped,” he said. – Rappler.com
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