“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci
By Alex P. Vidal
It’s not yet over until the fat lady sings, as the saying goes.
We thought Bobby Fischer was gone after losing his first match against Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland.
We thought the American genius was a big joke when he forfeited Game 2 and allowed the Russian defending champion to romp off with a commanding 2-0 lead.
We were all wrong. Fischer bundled out Spassky, 12.5-8.5, to become the first US-born world chess champion during the US-USSR cold war era.
We remember Atty. Francis Jardeleza of Jaro, Iloilo City.
After being unceremoniously ousted from the shortlist of nominees for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza’s nomination has been ordered restored by Malacanang.
It’s now up to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to decide on the matter. But since it was no less than President Benigno S. Aquino III who made the request, there are strong chances that Jardeleza might become the dark horse over the other nominees.
The Ilonggo jurist had been knocked out from the shortlist after Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, one of the six JBC members, challenged his integrity as a nominee during JBC’s last deliberations on June 30.
A nominee may be disqualified if his integrity is challenged and if a panel member invokes Rule 10, Section 2, of the JBC rules with a provision that states, “when the integrity of an applicant who is not otherwise disqualified for nomination is raised or challenged, the affirmative vote of all the members of the Council must be obtained for the favorable consideration of his nomination.”
To eliminate Jardeleza, Sereno invoked the powerful JBC rule against the Ilonggo jurist, an act we described here earlier as “equivalent to a knockout punch in boxing.”
It was reported that Sereno and Jardeleza had an old grudge that dates back during their stints as professors in the College of Law of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
A leading nominee, Jardeleza had appeared before the JBC to ask that it defer the voting last June 30 so the full court could meet on it in their en banc session on July 1.
Jardeleza had confirmed that after his appearance at the JBC, Sereno was the one who objected to his nomination.
But instead of taking the issue sitting down, Jardeleza drafted a petition before the Supreme Court, which supervises the JBC, saying the Chief Justice violated the JBC rules.
Jardeleza argued that Sereno’s accusations against him were made without informing him of their basis which is contrary to the rules of the JBC.
Under the rules, a complaint or opposition must be made in writing and under oath, and the candidate concerned should be given a copy in order to be able to file his comment, pointed out Jardeliza, who earned his law degree at the University of the Philippines College of Law, where he graduated as salutatorian in 1974.
Jardeleza said Sereno’s opposition was not in writing. He was only summoned in an executive session for another interview by the JBC to which he refused to comply.
In asking to restore Jardeleza’s nomination, the Palace, through Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Aguinaldo confirmed that Jardeleza’s rights to due process was violated when he was not given the opportunity to answer Sereno’s opposition against him.
Malacanang said: “This rule appears to be in conflict with the collegial nature of the JBC since the unanimity requirement gives the objector effective veto power when such objector is a member of the JBC…”
It added: “It is respectfully prayed that, in the event Section 2 Rule 10 of JBC-009 is declared unconstitutional or invalid, or the invocation of the rule is held to be improper, this Honorable Court declare petitioner Francis Jardeleza deemed included in the shortlist of nominees for Supreme Court Associate Justice.”
Jardeleza’s fate now hinges on the final decision of the JBC composed of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., Aurora Lagman, Jose Mejia and Ma. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa. Sereno, de Lima and Tupas are ex-officio members
The other four aside from Jardeleza who earlier made it to the final five are: Court of Appeals Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas and Jose Reyes Jr., who received six votes each; and Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido-Tan and Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Daway, who got four votes. Jardeleza had obtained the same votes before his name was removed from the shortlist.
President Aquino will select the next associate justice who will replace retired Associate Justice Roberto Abad 90 days from receipt of the shortlist
Abad’s post has been vacant since his retirement last May 22.
Like the late world chess champion and grand master Bobby Fischer, we might have not yet seen the last of Atty. Francis Jardeleza in as far as his entry in the Supreme Court is concerned.