The Manila Times - Leonen asked to inhibit from Marcos poll case

9 November 2020

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

The Solicitor General and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will join forces on Monday in asking the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to bar Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen from participating in deliberations on the election protest filed by Marcos.

According to well-placed sources of The Manila Times, Solicitor General Jose Calida and Marcos will file a motion compelling Leonen to inhibit from the case.

Leonen is the ponente for the case.

The motion will cite Leonen’s pre-judgment of the case and his delaying tactics that have stalled it for almost a year.

Marcos lost the 2016 vice presidential to Maria Leonor Robredo. He filed the protest, claiming fraudulent poll returns from three provinces in Mindanao.

The tribunal has solicited opinions from Calida and the Commission on Election (Comelec) whether it can rule on the Marcos case without infringing on Comelec’s mandate to annul the results of electoral contests.

In his opinion, Calida said “it is crystal clear the tribunal is empowered to declare annulment of elections without special elections.”

The Times source said justice will not be served under Leonen because it is clear that he has been sitting on the case for almost a year and had the case moving again after a quo warranto case was filed against him for allegedly failing to submit a complete statements of assets liabilities and net worth.

The source also said Leonen manifested “clear hate” for the Marcos family in his dissenting opinion in the case over the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Leonen strongly opposed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan and accused his family of plunder and amassing ill-gotten wealth.

The Times had also indicated that Leonen, an appointee of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, wanted to dismiss outright the Marcos protest.

Leonen became the ponente of the case on Oct. 29, 2019.

Even before his appointment, Leonen circulated to the tribunal a draft of his 25-page reflections in which he proposed the dismissal of the case if Marcos could not present specifics to support his claim of fraud.

“Marcos’ protest is dismissible under Rule 21 of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. It does not comply with the requirement of specifically alleging fraud, anomalies and/or irregularities. Entertaining Marcos’ plea for relief, when he himself is unsure of his bases will be condoning Marcos’ exploitation of the state resources for his own fishing expedition,” the source said quoting from Leonen’s reflections.

The source added that Leonen wanted to respect the outcome of the vice presidential polls and give the victory to Robredo since “suffrage is at the heart of every democracy.”

Marcos argued that he can prove that 2,756 protested clustered precincts in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan, were questionable because of massive cheating.

He claimed he would lead Robredo by more or less 45,000 votes if the results for the three provinces are annulled by the tribunal.