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G.R. No.

213181, August 19, 2014


FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA PETITIONER, VS. CHIEF JUSTICE MARIA LOURDES P. A.
SERENO, THE JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL AND EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N.
OCHOA, JR., RESPONDENTS.

Mandamus lies to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to compel the
performance of a discretionary duty. Mandamus will not issue to control or review the exercise of discretion of
a public officer where the law imposes upon said public officer the right and duty to exercise his judgment in
reference to any matter in which he is required to act. It has been judicially settled that a petition for certiorari
is a proper remedy to question the act of any branch or instrumentality of the government on the ground of grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by any branch or instrumentality of the
government, even if the latter does not exercise judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions.

The fact that a proceeding is sui generis and is impressed with discretion, however, does not automatically
denigrate an applicant’s entitlement to due process.

FACTS

Associate Justice Roberto Abad compulsory retired last May 22, 2014. Before his retirement, on March
6, 2014, in accordance with its rules, the JBC announced the opening for application or
recommendation for the said vacated position. Upon acceptance of the nomination, Jardeleza was
included in the names of candidates, as well as in the schedule of public interviews. Jardeleza received
telephone calls from former Court of Appeals Associate Justice and incumbent JBC member, Justice
Lagman, who informed him that during the meetings held, Chief Justice Sereno, manifested that she
would be invoking Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009 against him. Jardeleza was then directed to “make
himself available” before the JBC, during which he would be informed of the objections to his
integrity.

According to the JBC, Chief Justice Sereno questioned Jardeleza’s ability to discharge the duties of his
office as shown in a confidential legal memorandum over his handling of an international arbitration
case for the government. Later, Jardeleza was directed to one of the Court’s ante-rooms where
Department of Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima (Secretary De Lima) informed him that Associate
Justice Carpio appeared before the JBC and disclosed confidential information which, to Chief Justice
Sereno, characterized his integrity as dubious. After the briefing, Jardeleza was summoned by the JBC
at around 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Jardeleza alleged that he was asked by Chief Justice Sereno if
he wanted to defend himself against the integrity issues raised against him. He answered that he
would defend himself provided that due process would be observed. Jardeleza specifically demanded
that Chief Justice Sereno execute a sworn statement specifying her objections and that he be afforded
the right to cross-examine her in a public hearing. He requested that the same directive should also be
imposed on Associate Justice Carpio. As claimed by the JBC, Representative Niel G. Tupas Jr. also
manifested that he wanted to hear for himself Jardeleza’s explanation on the matter. Jardeleza,
however, refused as he would not be lulled into waiving his rights. Jardeleza then put into record a
written statement expressing his views on the situation and requested the JBC to defer its meeting
considering that the Court en banc would meet the next day to act on his pending letter-petition.
The Petition

Perceptibly based on the aforementioned resolution’s declaration as to his availment of a remedy in


law, Jardeleza filed the present petition for certiorari and mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, seeking to compel the JBC to
include him in the list of nominees for Supreme Court Associate Justice vice Associate Justice Abad,
on the grounds that the JBC and Chief Justice Sereno acted in grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction in excluding him, despite having garnered a sufficient number of votes
to qualify for the position.

QUESTIONS
I. CAN THE COURT ASSUME JURISDICTION AND GIVE DUE COURSE TO THE SUBJECT
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND MANDAMUS (WITH APPLICATION FOR A TEMPORARY
RESTRAINING ORDER).

II. IS THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS IS AVAILABLE IN THE COURSE OF JBC PROCEEDINGS IN
CASES WHERE AN OBJECTION OR OPPOSITION TO AN APPLICATION IS RAISED.

ANSWERS
I – YES. The Court has constitutional bases to assume jurisdiction over the case.BSection 8, Article VIII
of the 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of the JBC. The Court was given supervisory
authority over it. It is the power of oversight, or the authority to see that subordinate officers perform
their duties. It ensures that the laws and the rules governing the conduct of a government entity are
observed and complied with. Supervising officials see to it that rules are followed, but they themselves
do not lay down such rules, nor do they have the discretion to modify or replace them. Based on this,
the supervisory authority of the Court over the JBC covers the overseeing of compliance with its rules.
In this case, Jardeleza’s principal allegations in his petition merit the exercise of this supervisory
authority. The Court agrees with the JBC that a writ of mandamus is not available.

II – YES. The Court does not brush aside the unique and special nature of JBC proceedings. Indeed,
they are distinct from criminal proceedings where the finding of guilt or innocence of the accused is
sine qua non. The Court, however, could not accept, lock, stock and barrel, the argument that an
applicant’s access to the rights afforded under the due process clause is discretionary on the part of
the JBC.

It is well-established in jurisprudence that disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis in
that they are neither purely civil nor purely criminal; they involve investigations by the Court into the
conduct of one of its officers, not the trial of an action or a suit. Notwithstanding being “a class of its
own,” the right to be heard and to explain one’s self is availing. The Court subscribes to the view that
in cases where an objection to an applicant’s qualifications is raised, the observance of due process
neither negates nor renders illusory the fulfillment of the duty of JBC to recommend. This holding is
not an encroachment on its discretion in the nomination process. The Court may not close its eyes to
the existence of JBC-010 which, under the rules of statutory construction, bears great weight in that:
1] it covers “any” complaint or opposition; 2] it employs the mandatory term, “shall”; and 3] most
importantly, it speaks of the very essence of due process. While JBC-010 does not articulate a
procedure that entails a trial-type hearing, it affords an applicant, who faces “any complaint or
opposition,” the right to answer the accusations against him. This constitutes the minimum
requirements of due process.

DISSENTING OPINION
No person has a vested right to be nominated for a judicial position. In my view, the elemental
requirements of fairness embedded in the due process clause was afforded to petitioner. Through a
petition for certiorari and mandamus with an application for a temporary restraining order, petitioner
prays that we order that the list officially transmitted by the Judicial and Bar Council and received by
the Office of the President be disregarded and in its place a new one made with his name included.
However, petitioner, in his reply, admits to have been informed of the integrity issue against him at
least immediately after the executive session. Until this case was deliberated by this court, he has not
given any sufficient explanation about the substance of the charges. Neither has he informed this court
that he will not do so in view of any privileges he wishes to avail.

The supervisory power of this court over the Judicial and Bar Council is mainly administrative. The
Judicial and Bar Council is a fully independent constitutional body which functions as a check on the
President’s power of appointment. By virtue of the fundamental premise of separation of powers, the
appointing power in the judiciary should be done by the Supreme Court. However, for judicial
positions, this is vested in the Executive. Furthermore, because of the importance of these
appointments, the President’s discretion is limited to a shortlist submitted to him by the Judicial and
Bar Council which is under the supervision of the Supreme Court but composed of several
components. There is nothing in the Constitution which allows this court to interfere with the
Council’s exercise of its discretion in the execution of its constitutional mandate. At most, this court’s
supervision is merely administrative.

II
The remedy of certiorari does not lie in non-judicial or non-quasi-judicial functions.

Spouses Ducadao v. Secretary of Justice clarifies that the writ of certiorari only lies when the tribunal,
board, or officer exercises judicial or quasi-judicial functions. Thus:

For a special civil action for certiorari to prosper, therefore, the following requisites must concur,
namely: (a) it must be directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions; (b) the tribunal, board, or officer must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (c) there is no appeal nor any
plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The burden of proof lies on petitioners
to demonstrate that the assailed order was issued without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The Judicial and Bar Council correctly underscores that its proceedings is neither judicial nor quasi-
judicial in nature. An administrative body is deemed to be exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions when it is authorized to adjudicate upon the rights and obligations of the parties before it.
It must have both judicial discretion and the authority to render judgment that affects the parties. The
principal role of the Judicial and Bar Council is to recommend appointees to the judiciary. It serves as
a constitutional body that scrutinizes applicants and recommends to the President not only those who
are qualified but, in its discretion, the most fit among the applicants to be included in a shortlist from
which the President can make appointments to the judiciary. There is nothing in this function that
makes it a quasi-judicial office or agency. The Judicial and Bar Council is also not an agency for debate.
The request for petitioner to appear before the Judicial and Bar Council is merely an extension of the
discreet background check the body is entitled to conduct, especially on issues relating to the integrity
of the applicant.[51] The Council is entitled to verify claims made against petitioner, without
necessarily going into a full-blown trial.

Mandamus also does not lie against respondents. The determination by the Judicial and Bar Council
of the qualifications and fitness of applicants for positions in the judiciary is not a ministerial duty. It
is constitutionally part of its discretion. Mandamus cannot compel the amendment of any list already
transmitted, and it cannot be made available to compel the Council to transmit a name not in the
original list.

The decision to include names in the shortlist of nominees for the action of the President is, thus, a
prerogative of the Judicial and Bar Council, not this court.