Journal Online - Leonen must inhibit — Gadon

13 October 2020

By Journal Online

SUPREME Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s failure to promptly address an electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is more than enough reason to believe that he is not capable to judiciously handle a case that was assigned to him more than a year ago.

As such, lawyer Larry Gadon asked that Leonen inhibit from Marcos’s electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, even as he branded Leonen as a “Yellow Justice.”

He likewise insisted that Leonen intentionally delayed the process by issuance of a comment that would hasten the case.

“Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has prejudged the case of Bongbong Marcos versus Leni Robredo. Halata naman yan eh. Kasi it took him one year, 11 months to be exact just to issue a directive to the Comelec and the OSG (Office of Solicitor General) to file a comment… imagine that! Eh Pwede naman niyang gawin yun right after mai-assign sa kanya yung kaso nung October 2019,” Gadon reiterated.

Citing closeness to former President Noynoy Aquino who picked Robredo to run as vice president under the Liberal Party, Gadon categorically accused Leonen of giving preferential favor to the former President who appointed him to the SC, adding that Leonen owes so much to the LP which worked for his appointment to the high court.

Gadon further averred that using pandemic as an alibi is unacceptable reason for the 11 long months of delay adding that the court never stopped operating even during the months that the government had imposed hard lockdown in most of the country.

“And even if we’re under pandemic, madali naman gawin yung one-page document or order. Dapat nga January nailabas na yan, or at the latest before the pandemic… and even during the pandemic, hindi naman na-stop yung operation ng court eh. They can easily do that and send it to the parties. Pero bakit 11 months bago niya pinadala. It is because Leonen is a yellow justice,” Gadon was quoted as saying.

Marcos who narrowly lost to Robredo in 2016, filed a protest, demanding a recount of poll returns from three provinces in Mindanao. The tribunal initially assigned the Marcos case to Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. However, Leonen took over the case on Oct. 29, 2019.

Interestingly, even before Leonen took over the case, he had openly talked about his legal point of view to members of the tribunal.

Leonen’s comment hinted that Marcos failed to specify the poll precincts in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao where alleged irregularities occurred.

“Accordingly, I respectfully recommend that the protestant (Marcos) be required to plead facts with more specificity. Otherwise, acting on protestee’s (Robredo) Motion for Reconsideration dated February 24, 2017, the protest must be dismissed,” reads part of Leonen’s comment.

“For us to keep doubting our elections at every possible instance, forces us to run in circles. It hampers our development and frustrates the empowering objectives of popular sovereignty. Absent clear anomalies, elections must be taken to have successfully manifested the free will of the sovereign. Thus, any election protest challenging the results of an election must clearly and specifically allege the irregularities that occurred and particularly identify the precincts where each violation occurred. Failure to do so warrants the dismissal of the protest,” further reads Leonen’s reflections.

Gadon also cited a newspaper column that partly described as the physical state of Leonen’s document which had a portion of it that reads: “Subject to Proofreading.”

“Anong ipu-proofread? Sino magpu-proofread?”

“There’s really something beyond this phrase,” added Gadon who strongly urged the high court to keep Leonen off the case if only to ensure that the integrity of the court is protected and preserved. ###