The Manila Times - Multiple Leonen draft rulings confuse SC

News & Interviews
2 February 2021

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

(Second of Two Parts)

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen appears to have circulated several versions of his draft decision on the 2016 election protest of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. before the high court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Marcos had run for vice president against Maria Leonor Robredo and lost by 263,473 votes.
He filed the protest, accusing Robredo of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities.”

Sources in the court intimately familiar with the case told The Manila Times that Leonen himself handed out copies of the draft resolution to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and the 13 other justices of the court during an en banc meeting last January 12 so they could deliberate on it.

But one source said some of the distributed copies were different from the others and there was no telling which one was the original draft.

The source said Leonen must have deliberately circulated several versions to unmask the justice who leaked earlier documents written by Leonen.

Some words were misspelled, and paragraphs and quotations that were in some of the copies were missing from the others, the insider said.

It was learned that one justice received a 97-page draft, another was handed 96 pages and two others 95 pages. One was only 93 pages long.

Another source believes that Leonen’s attempt to catch the leaker has compromised the integrity of the original draft and left the court totally confused.

Rule 13, Section 6(a) of the Supreme Court’s Internal Rules states that any decision “shall state clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.”

“Because of the scheme of Leonen, one justice is holding a different draft from others. How can the justices vote intelligently?” the source said.
Another insider said even the watermarks were different.

The PET is scheduled to discuss the Leonen resolution today, February 2.

The sources agree that the case will most likely be “called again” or the deliberations reset because of the entry of newly appointed Justice Jhosep Lopez and to give time for the magistrates to review the ruling in depth.

What seems to be the only consistent thread is Leonen’s recounting of the four election protests filed before the PET: that of former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago against former president Fidel Ramos; former senator Manuel Roxas 3rd against former vice president Jejomar Binay; actor Ronald Allan Poe (Fernando Poe Jr.) against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; and former senator Lorna Regina Legarda against former vice president Emmanuel de Castro.

The Marcos case has been pending before the PET for the better part of four years, having been filed by Marcos on June 29, 2016.

In his protest, Marcos questioned the results from 39,221 clustered poll precincts in three provinces in Mindanao.