The Manila Times - Leonen’s secrets revealed

13 October 2020

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

Part 2

The 25-page reflections Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen submitted to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to support his argument to dismiss the election protest of vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. contains at least two intriguing features, according to a Supreme Court insider who has seen the documents.

The Leonen reflections bolster speculations that the magistrate was convinced as early as 2017 that Marcos’ protest must be dismissed.

Marcos lost narrowly to Leonor “Leni” Robredo in 2016.

He filed a protest, demanding a recount of poll returns from three provinces in Mindanao.
The tribunal assigned the Marcos case to Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. Leonen took over the case on Oct. 29, 2019.

Even before he took charge, Leonen had circulated his reflections to members of the tribunal.

The court insider told The Manila Times he found intriguing the way Leonen secretly shared his sentiments on the Marcos case with the members of the PET, even before he became part of the panel.

The Times source said it was clear that Leonen wanted the tribunal members to buy his argument that Marcos failed to specify the poll precincts in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao where alleged irregularities occurred.

“Accordingly, I respectfully recommend that the protestant (Marcos) be required to plead facts with more specificity. Otherwise, acting on protestee’s (Robredo) Motion for Reconsideration dated February 24, 2017, the protest must be dismissed,” the insider quoted Leonen in the reflections.

“For us to keep doubting our elections at every possible instance, forces us to run in circles. It hampers our development and frustrates the empowering objectives of popular sovereignty. Absent clear anomalies, elections must be taken to have successfully manifested the free will of the sovereign. Thus, any election protest challenging the results of an election must clearly and specifically allege the irregularities that occurred and particularly identify the precincts where each violation occurred. Failure to do so warrants the dismissal of the protest,” Leonen also wrote, the source said.

Another puzzling aspect of the document is the blank promulgation date and the words “Subject to Proofreading,” the source said.

But most fascinating of all is that the document had a watermark consisting of strange scribblings resembling an ancient indigenous alphabet.

The Times found out that the characters were from the baybayin or alibata alphabet used by Filipinos during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Leonen used the baybayin letters that translate to the word “confidential.”

The magistrate claims that his roots are from the Kankanai tribe of Northern Luzon.

The source also said there was a footnote in the reflections, which warned Supreme Court officials and employees that any unauthorized disclosure, sharing or publication of the document is punishable under court rules.

“Important Note for Court 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 footnote read, the source said.

In his protest, Marcos wanted the results from 36,465 from 39,221 clustered precincts in the three Mindanao provinces recounted and the remaining 2,756 annulled.

Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes, alleged there were “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as preshading of ballots, preloaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, and malfunctioning vote-counting machines.