Manila Standard - Leonen backers hit for cover-up

News & Interviews
18 December 2020

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

The Secretary General of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance-Maharlika Edwin Cordevilla deplored Thursday the support of 100 law deans and law professors to Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen as a “cover-up” to the alleged wrongdoings of the embattled magistrate.

Cordevilla said the deans and professors of schools of laws in the country appeared to have signed the manifesto “as an attempt at covering up misbehavior and misactions of Leonen.”

“They are pitiful,” Cordevilla said, responding to the statement by 100 deans and law professors from various law schools expressing support to Leonen after the latter was accused of “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”

Cordevilla filed before the House of Representatives a “verified impeachment complaint” accusing Leonen of “culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution and “betrayal of public trust.”

The statement of the deans and law professors ignored the impeachment complaint of Cordevilla.

They expressed their “collective support” to Leonen by alleging that the complaint had “unsubstantiated and groundless allegations” against the magistrate.

“[The impeachment complaint] should be dismissed for utter lack of merit.” the group said, adding the impeachment complaint was an act of “palpable assault on judicial independence.”

Cordevilla said Leonen should be impeached for his failure to file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Network (SALN) for 15 years, or 15 times, which constituted deliberate violation of Section 17, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.

Cordevilla also said that the case on Leonen’s failure to decide, or release his ponente, on 82 cases raffled off to him by the Supreme Court en banc was in violation of Section 15, Article VIII in relation to Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

If the Constitution was not deliberately violated, Leonen had long released his ponente on each case, particularly on the 37 “aging” cases.

The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, whom he heads, has not released its decision on the 34 electoral protests filed on the latter.

Cordevilla also argued that the impeachment move was not an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court because the framers of the 1987 Constitution had exactly provided a provision that allows its citizens to initiate an impeachment complaint.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said that the impeachment act was the “single” legal way to boot out a Supreme Court magistrate and not through quo warranto petition.

Rodriguez, who is also a deputy speaker, stressed that his argument was based on the Constitution.

But the lawmaker admitted that Cordevilla’s complaint would be tackled by the House Committee on Justice next year when Congress resumes session after the Christmas break starting December 18.