The Manila Times - Leonen issues ruling on Marcos protest

News & Interviews
1 February 2021

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

(First of two parts)

After more than a year, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen has completed a draft ruling on the protest of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. contesting the victory of Maria Leonor Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential polls.

The Manila Times has learned from a highly reliable source in the high court that Leonen has submitted the 97-page draft resolution with an accompanying two-page memorandum to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is hearing the Marcos protest, which alleges fraudulent returns from voting precincts in Mindanao.

Leonen submitted the draft last January 12, fulfilling his promise to speed up the case, which has hardly moved since it was raffled off to him.

The Times’ source said Leonen personally handed the draft to his fellow magistrates during their en banc session as a precaution against the document being leaked.

It contains Leonen’s unique watermark — baybayin characters for the word “confidential” on every page of the document.

Baybayin is the ancient Filipino writing system.

Leonen has also asked each Supreme Court magistrate to sign for the copy of the draft, another safeguard against leakage, the court insider said.

The source said the associate justice had included in the draft quotes from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and the Bible.

He cited Lao Tzu’s maxim: “New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

From John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

He also quoted from American author Alexandra Bracken’s book, The Darkest Minds: “But part of surviving is being able to move on.”

Leonen has been extra cautious in protecting the confidentiality of the documents he issues after the Times obtained a copy of his reflections on the Marcos case in which he advocated its dismissal.

In the reflections’ footnote, Leonen had warned the court’s staff: “This is part of the internal deliberations of the Court. Unauthorized disclosure, publication or use of this document or any of its contents is classified as a grave offense and is punishable by suspension or dismissal from service.”

The reflections were among the documents submitted as evidence in the impeachment case filed against Leonen before the House of Representatives.

The protest has been pending before the PET for about four years, having been filed by Marcos on June 29, 2016.

It languished for three years with Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and more than a year with Leonen.

In the protest, Marcos questioned the election results from 39,221 clustered precincts and accused Robredo of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities.”

Marcos lost by 263,473 votes.

(To be continued)