Florin Hilbay

Florin "Pilo" Ternal Hilbay[1] (born March 19, 1974) is a Filipino lawyer who served as the Solicitor General of the Philippines from 2014 to 2016, serving the Philippine agent in the international case, Philippines v. China, which nullified all historical claims of China in the West Philippine Sea.[2] He ranked first place in the 1999 Philippine Bar Examination.

He is a member of the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law since 2000, where he teaches Advanced Constitutional Litigation, Constitutional Law, and Philosophy of Law, with emphasis on issues relating to Church and State, post-colonial constitutionalism, and the relationship between the information environment and legal consciousness. He also taught Obligations & Contracts and Public Officers & Election Law.[3]

Birth and Education

Hilbay was born in Tondo, Manila to mother Lydia Hilbay, a former househelp and elementary graduate, and Rodrigo Hilbay, a messenger and high school graduate.[4] He finished his elementary education at the Holy Child Catholic School in Tondo Manila, and his secondary education at the University of Santo Tomas Education Highschool. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Santo Tomas in 1995. He earned his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law at UP Diliman and was admitted to the bar in 1999, placing first in the bar examinations.[5] In 2005, Hilbay obtained his Masters of Law degree from Yale Law School.

He was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Boston College in 2001. He has also held fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, and at the Asian Law Institute for Comparative Public Law in the National University of Singapore, and in Silliman University.

Early career

Hilbay topped the 1999 bar examination with a score of 88.5%, sharing the first place distinction with Edwin Enrile of the Ateneo de Manila University. That year, only 16% or 660 of the 3,978 examinees passed the bar.

When the results came out on the same day as his birthday in March 2000, Hilbay was then working as an underbar clerk to Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, a noted constitutionalist who was a former solicitor from 1971 to 1973 and assistant solicitor general from 1973 to 1980.[6]

Hilbay also previously joined the OSG as an associate solicitor under Solicitor General Simeon Marcelo in 2002. He also served as the Director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the University of the Philippines Law Center; a consultant to the Commission on Elections; and as the vice-chair of Bantay Katarungan (Sentinels of Justice), a civic organization formed by former Senator Jovito Salonga, purposefully created to advocate and strengthen the rule of law, to address issues of public injustice and to oversee the appointments process in the judiciary. [3]

He also served as the editor-in-chief of the Philippine Law and Society Review and an editor of the IBP Law Journal. [7]

Work as Solicitor General

Hilbay took over as acting Solicitor General on August 20, 2014,[8] replacing Francis Jardeleza who was appointed as a Supreme Court Associate Justice. President Benigno Aquino III formally appointed Hilbay as Solicitor General on June 16, 2015.[9]

As a senior state solicitor under Jardeleza, he defended the Reproductive Health Law before the Supreme Court in 2014. He was also the principal lawyer for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Bangsamoro. [10] He went on to become solicitor general.[11]

As solicitor general, he served as the Philippines' agent in the arbitration proceeding in Philippines v. China filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013. The court hearings began in July 7, 2015, and was ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 12, 2016. The court nullified all historical claims of China in the West Philippine sea via the nine-dash line.[12]

Constitutional Law Professor

Hilbay started working as a constitutional law professor at University of the Philippines Diliman after his term as Solicitor General in 2016. He has expressed his staunch dissent over the deadly Philippine Drug War, the extension of martial law in Mindanao, the under-budgeting of the Commission on Human Rights, the House attempts to re-impose the death penalty, the misogyny of the President, the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 9 years of age, the spread of fake news, and the position of the Duterte administration on issues concerning China. He has been handling the case of detained senator Leila de Lima since February 2018. Hilbay is also part of Senator Antonio Trillanes’ legal team in opposing the government’s nullification of the former soldier’s amnesty. [13]

2019 Senatorial Candidacy

In October 2018, Hilbay filed his senatorial candidacy for the 2019 Philippine Senate election, missing the top 12 and placing 29th. He ran under the opposition coalition, Otso Diretso.[14] His platform focuses on the government budget, social services, and sovereign rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise.[15] In January 2019, Hilbay became an official member and the official candidate of Aksyon Demokratiko, a progressive political party founded by senator Raul Roco.[16]


He authored a collection of essays entitled "Unplugging the Constitution" published and distributed by the University of the Philippines Press in 2009. The book, written between 2004 and 2005 while he was in Yale,[17] tackled a wide range of issues. It discussed constitutional law, constitutional theory, philosophy of adjudication, legal hermeneutics, bar exams, the institution of marriage, psychological incapacity, liberal consciousness, and free speech.[18] His theory on the Tort of Constitutional Negligence has been applied in suits for damages against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[3]


  1. ^ https://opinion.inquirer.net/117936/rags-to-service-the-tale-of-pilo-hilbay
  2. ^ https://www.pcacases.com/web/sendAttach/1503
  3. ^ a b c "Florin Hilbay – UP COLLEGE OF LAW". law.upd.edu.ph. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  4. ^ https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2019/214505-florin-hilbay-files-certificate-candidacy-senator-under-opposition-coalition
  5. ^ Bagares, Romel; Porcalla, Delon (1 March 2000). "Bar topnotcher didn't want to be a lawyer". philstar.com. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  6. ^ http://www.philpressinstitute.com/2011/06/19/cv-of-justice-vicente-v-mendoza
  7. ^ http://www.osg.gov.ph/about/
  8. ^ http://www.mb.com.ph/bar-topnotcher-hilbay-named-acting-solicitor-general/
  9. ^ http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/699526/aquino-formalizes-hilbay-appointment-as-solicitor-general
  10. ^ http://ptvnews.ph/bottom-news-life2/11-11-nation-submenu/45674-president-aquino-appoints-lawyer-florin-hilbay-as-solicitor-general
  11. ^ "Designation as Acting Solicitor General, Office of the Solicitor General". Malacanang Palace. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  12. ^ https://www.pcacases.com/web/sendAttach/1503
  13. ^ Ager, Maila. "Trillanes names members of legal team". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  14. ^ https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2019/214505-florin-hilbay-files-certificate-candidacy-senator-under-opposition-coalition
  15. ^ https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2019/218363-theleaderiwant-florin-hilbay-and-his-dream-transition-from-lawyering-to-legislating
  16. ^ https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2019/221508-aksyon-demokratiko-adopts-opposition-senatoria-bets-lito-lapid
  17. ^ Quismundo, Tarra (9 January 2016). "SC bet Florin Hilbay defends 'single blessedness'". newsinfo.inquirer.net. Inquirer.net. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Unplugging the Constitution". www.uhpress.hawaii.edu. Retrieved 3 August 2016.

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