Manila Standard : Leonen’s yellow vision

News & Interviews
24 April 2021

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

"Bongbong can still file a motion for reconsideration."

After five years, or just a little over a year before the next presidential and vice-presidential elections, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen finally released his decision on the election protest of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

And while everyone was hoping that Leonen would help unravel the truth behind the mysterious (and ridiculous) victory of Maria Leonora “Leni” Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race when she overtook Bongbong’s lead of almost a million, he took the opposite path, he opted to bury the truth in the same manner he would have wanted his SALN issues buried forever.

Leonen did so, without giving Marcos the benefit of presenting proof about the massive cheating that occurred in Mindanao, the protestee’s third cause of action, which was supposed to be a separate, distinct and independent cause of action, but was rejected, according to Marcos’ “because of a plethora of rules.”

According to Bongbong, the power of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the body which heard his case and which was headed by Leonen, is plenary and that the third cause of action, like annulment, should not pose a problem even in the absence of rules because the will of the electorate is of paramount importance.

No less than the Commission of Election and the Office of the Solicitor General affirm this when they both declared, “What is important in any election is that the will of the people is paramount.”

The Marcos camp stresses that the existence or non-existence of procedural rules should not be an obstacle in knowing the true will of the people. Rules are just secondary in nature. What is important is the true will of the electorate.

And on the main, the PET should do everything in its power to ascertain who really won as vice president, Marcos says.

Marcos insists “the truth should not be limited to the existence or non-existence of the Rules on Annulment because at the end of the day, it will be the people themselves who will be deprived of ascertaining who the real victor in the 2016 elections were.”

“If the PET was going to dismiss our election protest without hearing all the evidence, then why didn’t it dismiss our third cause of action from day 1? Instead they made us pay 66 million pesos for the protest . . . made us wait for almost 5 years . . . made us believe that the annulment was a separate, distinct and independent cause of action—only to decide the case without affording us due process?” Bongbong asked.

And I believe he has every reason to ask this question as much as everybody would want this issue answered.

Ironically, Leonen ignored all of those and in Marcos’ own words, “it is regrettable that the Justice-in-charge viewed the case with extreme partiality through his yellow lenses.” He was after all, a creation of the Yellow administration.

And this, according to Marcos, “is a very bad precedent because in the future, no one in their right mind would dare question the results of an election.” And a very expensive and time-consuming exercise at that.

Nonetheless, Bongbong assures his followers that as “long as there is a ray of hope,” he will continue to fight.

“I owe this to the more than 14 million loyalists who voted for me. I owe this to our youth who will be casting their ballots in 2022,” avers Marcos.

“At the end of the day, the true will of the electorate must prevail,” he vows.

We too believe there is still a glimmer of hope. Even with just a little over a year before the next elections. This after former SC Chief Justice said PET’s ruling is not yet final and executory as only eight justices concurred with the ruling penned by Leonen.

Bongbong still can file his motion for reconsideration. We have waited this long. What’s a few more months? Just as long as no Yellow would be handling the case.

* * *

Well, it seems even the Integrated Bar of the Philippines has its own election woes.

It’s all right to rally behind your fraternity brothers who are in the thick of their personal quest for leadership in the elite group of lawyers. This is in the spirit of camaraderie. As a matter of principle, you should help them face up to the challenges. I say that’s a commendable act.

But there is a thin line that separates friendship and ethics, especially if you are ranking official of the Supreme Court which is indisputably the bedrock of justice, equality, and liberty.

The point is; as an official of the highest court of law in the land, you cannot throw your weight around to influence the outcome of a local community’s or an organization’s independent selection of their leaders.

That is tantamount to blatantly undermining the integrity and independence of the electoral process, not to mention the possibility of overstepping the limits of your rights and privileges.

Premises laid, some like-minded members of the IBP have raised quizzical brows as well as grave concern over the overzealousness of this particular SC official who walks the extra mile to promote the candidacy of fraternity brothers eyeing gubernatorial posts in the IBP local chapters across the country.

If this SC honcho would have his way, all IBP chapters would be headed by members of their fraternity, the Alpha PB (for brevity) based at the state-run University of the Philippines. Is that good for the law profession in particular, and the country in general? Personally, I don’t think so.

It is now common knowledge within the legal circles that this guy who loves to flaunt his SC position like a proud Olympian who has just captured his first gold, successfully dissuaded some non-APB members to abandon their personal choices and vote instead for an Alphan. Insiders say it is also not uncommon for some Alphans to jump from one chapter to another for political reasons.

Question. What’s in it for him if his Alphan brothers get top posts in the regional and provincial IBP chapters?

Is it merely for personal glorification, or is there something more sinister than that? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Presumably, there are some rules to make Mr. Zealot toe the line.

Anyway, the IBP elections for regional governors is on April 24, 2021. So by the time this article finds print, it’s a done deal for our guy.