MANILA - Saying he has nothing to lose anymore at this stage in his legal career, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza vowed to demand for a fair proceeding in his bid for the lone vacancy at the Supreme Court (SC).
Jardeleza was summoned by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday to square off with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the council's ex-officio chairperson, who has raised an issue on Jardeleza's integrity.
Citing a petition he filed with the high court en banc questioning Sereno's action, and urging the high court to disallow the Chief Justice from casting her vote on the lone vacancy, Jardeleza called on the JBC to suspend the scheduled voting on Monday.
"I will give this my all. I know how to push back. I will push back. At this point in my life, I will not be bullied. Ngayon pa!” he said.
"Strong words I use, for no words can do justice to the anger I feel at the intemperate and inhuman attack made on my reputation. The attach strikes at the heard of my innermost being. I am therefore entitled to mince no words in my defense," he added.
ACCUSER CANNOT BE JUDGE AT THE SAME TIME
Sereno asked for an executive session to confront Jardeleza with her accusations. Her issues have not been disclosed to the public.
The chief magistrate's move came after the conduct of public interviews and the tedious process of screening undertaken by the JBC.
It also turns out that there is no formal complaint against Jardeleza. It was Sereno herself who raised an issue with his application.
Jardeleza said this runs counter to the very rules of the JBC, as well as basic constitutional guarantees of due process and justice.
"First, a process that requires the accuser to file her opposition in writing and under oath. Why under solemn oath? To deter perjury, and to give the party wrongly accused legal remedies to restore reputation. Because talk is cheap, this process forces the accuser to walk the talk,” he said.
"Second, a process that gives the nominees a period of five days to answer. It as a bedrock principle of our constitutional system that an accused is given an opportunity to be heard, and a chance to prepare a meaningful defense.”
"Third, a process that gives the nominee a right to cross examine his accuser... [c]ross examination will unmask bias, motive, self interest, pettiness, personal grudge, instability and ill-will. Cross examination will also unmask the outright lie and the willful falsehood."
"Fourth, a process which requires that the sworn statement in writing be made of the public record, and that the cross examination be conducted in public. In other words, a process that is transparent," he said.
He pointed out that because Sereno is his accuser, she should not cast her vote, for it defies the basic principle that "an accuser cannot be the judge of the truth of her own accusation."
Jardeleza called on the JBC to await the action of the SC en banc on his plea, before the council should proceed with the voting process.
The SC en banc will be in session on Tuesday.
"I make this appeal to the Chief Justice to stay her hand today, out of deference to her peers. I also make this appeal to the other honorable members of the council, to similarly stay their hand. One day, just one more day, to let the full Supreme Court address the issue of what process is due me."
"I have begged the honorable court en banc to allow me a process no different from the process that the rules of the council afford any other applicant for a judicial position, no more, no less. I ask for no special or preferential treatment.
Jardeleza also thanked his supporters, including the men and women of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
He stressed that he is going all-out in this battle because, having lived a full life - both personally and professionally - he no longer has anything to lose.
The vacancy in the Supreme Court Vacancy is in view of the retirement of Associate Justice Roberto Abad in May.