SC Justice Leonen faces impeachment complaint

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — An impeachment complaint endorsed by a lawmaker and member of the Marcos clan against Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor "Marvic" Leonen was filed before the House of Representatives on Monday.

The complaint filed by Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government Secretary General Edwin Cordevilla was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Leonen is the justice in charge of the electoral protest of Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

Cordevilla, who is represented by pro-Marcos lawyer Larry Gadon, cited the magistrate's alleged failure to file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities or SALN and supposed delays in resolution of cases, including the ones pending before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, where Leonen serves as the chairperson.

Citing a newspaper column, the complainant claimed Leonen "willfully and intentionally failed" to file his SALN for 15 years during his tenure at the University of the Philippines, making him guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court previously rejected the request of Gadon and Office of the Solicitor General to access Leonen's SALN for purposes of preparing a quo warranto petition. This was the same legal route Gadon took in 2017 against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, which eventually led to her historic ouster in 2018.

"The willful and intentional disregard of our Constitution evidently proves his lack of integrity. Thus, just like SERENO, he must be disqualified from holding public office," the complaint read.

It also said Leonen was "negligent and incompetent" for failing to dispose of at least 37 cases within the required period of 24 months to submit a resolution. It added that 34 election protests and quo warranto cases barely moved when Leonen assumed the HRET chairmanship in October 2019.

Personal vendetta?

Justice Leonen said issues raised in the complaint were for "personal or vindictive reasons."

"Given the urgent and pressing needs of our people during the time of crises, we are confident that our leaders will do the right thing. Certainly, this may not be to attend to false issues raised by some for clearly personal or vindictive reasons," Leonen said in a statement.

The Supreme Court has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.

Barba said he endorsed the complaint because Cordevilla is his contituent, adding he believed the issues stated in it. He said his blood ties to the Marcoses were only "secondary."

The endorsement of the impeachment complaint by a House member means it has been officially filed before the chamber.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, denied President Rodrigo Duterte's involvement in the impeachment raps.

"Absolutely not, none. Walang kinalaman diyan. We don't even know who the proponents are," he said in a media briefing.

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, recently junked the appeal of Marcos and Solicitor General Jose Calida for Leonen to inhibit from the poll protest after claiming the magistrate's supposed bias in favor of Robredo.