The Manila Times - Justices decry court ‘coddling’ of Leonen

23 October 2020

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

Several justices and judges deplored the harsh punishment meted out to a Court of Appeals magistrate for inefficiency while Supreme Court Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen got away even if he had been “sleeping on the job.”

The judicial officials, who asked that they remain anonymous, conveyed their sentiment to The Manila Times.

They were referring to the case of Justice Marilyn Lagura Yap, who the Supreme Court found guilty of gross inefficiency and fined an amount equivalent to one year of her salary.

They said that while severely penalizing Yap, the Supreme Court appears to be treating Leonen with kid gloves.

In the one-page document that listed pending cases of the 15 of Supreme Court justices, Leonen leads with 82 cases.

The Times sources said what was ironic was the fact that Leonen himself voted during the en banc to dismiss Yap for failure to resolve 160 cases when she was a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge.

“It was so unfair to penalize Justice Yap with a one year fine while pampering Justice Leonen who was also sleeping on his job. Iba talaga yung tinitingnan sa tinititigan,” one justice told The Times.

Leonen has 37 cases, which are already ripe for decision but remain unresolved.
He also has 45 cases, which are waiting for other pleadings to be submitted, such as comment and reply.

The list of pending en banc cases were from June 30. Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Jose Reyes Jr. have retired but were still on the list at the time the document was made.

The sources said Leonen was very slow in disposing of cases because he was too focused on dissents and reflections rather than the dispositive aspect.

Other senior justices who are much older than Leonen have better records when it comes to resolving cases — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Justice Alexander Gesmundo. Leonen is the third most senior justice in the high court.

Peralta has only one aging case and four non-aging cases while Bernabe has no aging case and three non-aging cases.

Gesmundo has five aging cases and eight non-aging cases, while Caguioa has 15 aging cases and 24 non-aging cases.

The Yap decision was promulgated last June 23, before the issue on Leonen’s failure to file his complete Statements of Assets Liabilities and Networth was exposed by Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao.