PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has appointed 1999 Bar topnotcher Florin Hilbay as acting solicitor general to replace Francis Jardeleza, who was appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice last week.
Hilbay, 40, was previously director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center.
He led the filing of criminal charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chief Benjamin Abalos when he was vice chairman of the group Bantay Katarungan.
He received his degree in Economics at the University of Santo Tomas and his law degree at the University of the Philippines.
After topping the 1999 bar exams, Libay took his Master of Laws at the Yale Law School in 2005. He then started his career as court attorney in the office of then high court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza.
He served as associate solicitor in 2002 and, together with Jardeleza, won the case for the Reproductive Health Law before the Supreme Court.
Among the high-profile cases that Hilbay will now handle are the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she had received Hilbay’s appointment as chief state counsel in an acting capacity.
“I know Hilbay to be a really competent senior solicitor,” De Lima said.
“He was of big help to former Solgen Jardeleza in defending government cases, so we welcome him as member of the DOJ.”
She said Hilbay was very much qualified for the post since he was a very brilliant lawyer and a good academician.
“I hope he will continue the way important cases were handled by now Justice Jardeleza. My expectation is that he will continue defending the cases for the government,” De Lima said.
A source said Hilbay was appointed in an acting capacity because he needed a few more months to fulfill the required 15-year law practice for the post.
Still, the administration code allows the appointment of executive officials in an acting capacity, and after five months Hilbay could be reappointed in a permanent capacity, the source said.
Hilbay teaches constitutional law in the UP College of law.
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