The Manila Times - Leonen still Supreme Court’s backlog leader

News & Interviews
18 January 2021

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen remains unbeaten as the Supreme Court’s backlog leader.

Leonen still has the biggest number of unresolved cases, based on the court’s Quarterly Report of Case Audit last year.

In the copy of the audit report obtained by The Manila Times, Leonen had 82 pending cases in the court en banc and 863 cases in the Third Division, which he heads, as of June 30, 2020.

The document, prepared and signed by Division Clerk of Court Misael Domingo Battung 3rd, showed that Leonen disposed only 36 cases in the second quarter of 2020.

The document does not say if the cases were actually resolved or merely handed over to a junior justice.

Leonen racked up a total 945 pending cases as of midyear of 2020.

In terms of disposing of cases, the other members of the division fared much better.

Justice Alexander Gesmundo only had 696 pending cases; Justice Rosmari Carandang, 689; Justice Rodil Zalameda, 774; and Justice Samuel Gaerlan, 752.

Leonen, 58, has been with the Supreme Court for eight years. He was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to the court on Nov. 21, 2012.

His colleagues in the division were all appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Leonen also has 208 aging cases and 655 non-aging cases in his division. Aging cases are due for a decision, but remain unresolved. Non-aging cases are pending because other pleadings are yet to be submitted

Of the 82 pending cases of Leonen in en banc, 37 are aging cases.

He also has 45 non-aging cases, the biggest in his division.

On Leonen’s watch, two cases hardly moved for almost eight years. One case has been pending for seven years, two cases for six years, 14 for five years, one case for four years, six cases for three years and nine cases for two years.

Despite his slow disposition of cases, Leonen has not been called out by his fellow magistrates. The court, however, was quick to punish Court of Appeals Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap for failure to resolve 160 cases when she was a Regional Trial Court judge

Times sources in the court said the cases linger with Leonen because he tends to focus on dissents and reflections.

His performance is way behind that of the other senior justices — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Gesmundo.

Peralta has only five pending cases, while Bernabe has no aging cases and three non-aging cases.