By Hector Lawas | Journal Online
SUPREME Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen appeared disappointed over the expose’ that he had personally requested for P5 million worth of “renovation” for his vacation house in Baguio City.
Leonen stressed in his press statement that he did not ask the en banc of the Supreme Court to release and finance the P4,970,623.71 cost of repairing the vacation house that was assigned to him and his staff in Baguio City.
“My chambers never endorsed the P5-million proposal to renovate Cottage G in Baguio City. The proposal was drafted by the Supreme Court’s Maintenance Division and, without having gone through my office, was placed in the Court’s En Banc agenda. Upon learning of this, I immediately wrote a letter requesting that the matter be withdrawn, and it was promptly deleted,” Leonen said in his November 26 press statement.
Media reports showed that Leonen wrote a letter to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on November 23, a day before the bench’s en banc discussed the P5 million Cottage G, requesting for a postponement of the magistrates’s decision about the issue since the associate justice wanted to ‘review’ and ‘study’ the whole picture of the renovation, materials that will be used and its costs. Peralta agreed not to tackle the Cottage G issue.
Leonen’s supposed intent to change the vacation house was revealed to the media while the gross domestic product (GDP) has gone so deeply since the second quarter of the year.
The government’s top economists expect that the low ratings of GDP will last until the end of the year.
GDP, which is the total amount of produced commodities and services in a specific period (quarter and one whole year), is the yardstick of every country’s economy.
It was previously revealed in the Senate that more than 10 million workers have gone jobless, more than three million have experienced hunger, hundreds of businessmen from the Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) complained of bankruptcy due to the coronavirus disease – 2019 (COVID – 19).
As this happened, it was revealed in the media that Leonen’s office on October 17 wrote a letter to Deputy Clerk of Court Ma. Carina Cunanan, of the high bench’s Administrative Services, about the P5 million worth of renovation of Cottage G.
The one who wrote the letter to Cunanan was Atty. Jeanne Carla T. Ferrer – Becina, Leonen’s “judicial staff head”.
The letter was made a few weeks after the “modified enhanced community quarantine” (MECQ) in several regions in Luzon was lifted.
The government and the private sector have started to train their guns on addressing the poverty that have hit millions of Filipinos during the COVID – 19 and the attack of typhoons “Quinta” and “Rolly” in October. Thousands of families were severely affected by the typhoons, including the lost their houses. But, Leonen allegedly did not withdraw his plan.
The high court’s justices have their respective vacation houses in Baguio City which they use in their discussions and deliberatons on important cases and issues during the summer period. Cottage G was previously assigned to former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
On November 18, Cunanan wrote to the Supreme Court’s Clerk of Court, Atty. Edgar Aricheta, about Leonen’s request.
It was clear that Cunanan mentioned in her letter that it was Atty. Becina who wrote the request – letter for the renovation of Cottage G.
The request – letter was concrete evidence that the changes on Cottage G was a request of Leonen, which is a complete contradiction of the latter’s denial to the media expose on the issue.
Cottage G is a three-story vacation house. It has three living areas, a basement, six rooms and a master bedroom which includes a study room, for bathroom, several lanai and a garden.
The cost for the basement renovation alone was pegged at P1,888,983.20.
The direct cost could reach up to P3,859,179, while there is a separate of P532,566 as “contingency funds” and another P532,566 for the payment of value added tax (VAT) to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).