MANILA - Government's chief peace negotiator in the ongoing talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Atty. Marvic Leonen, is the new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC).
Leonen, who served as Dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Law, was appointed on Wednesday by Pres. Noynoy Aquino.
Leonen now holds the record of being the youngest appointee to the high court since 1938. Forty-nine-year old Leonen will be turning 50 on Dec. 29.
He is the second youngest high court magistrate, second only to Associate Justice Manuel Moran who joined the high court at age 45.
Leonen is the 172nd magistrate of the high tribunal.
Prior to his appointment, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, was the youngest to be appointed in the century. Sereno, whose former Associate Justice post will be assumed by Leonen, was appointed at the age of 50.
Leonen will sit in the Supreme Court for 20 years. When Chief Justice Sereno steps down in 2030 at age 70 (mandatory age of retirement) after an 18-year stint, Leonen will be the lone sitting justice left of the present Court.
During his stint at the GRP-MILF peace talks table, Leonen was instrumental in the signing of the framework peace agreement.
He co-founded the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center Inc.-Kasama sa Kalikasan, a legal and policy research and advocacy institution that gives legal services to the poor and indigenous communities.
In 2010, Leonen, then-UP Diliman College of Law Dean Leonen, was directed by the Supreme Court to show cause why he, along with several faculty members, should not be administratively sanctioned for the College of Law's statement, "Restoring Integrity," which maintained the view that the high court's decision in Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary, penned by sitting Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, was plagiarized.
Before the high court handed down its ruling on the administrative matter, Leonen acknowledged in Dec. 2010 that he failed to supply two attributions in an article he published in 2004 entitled, "Weaving Worldviews: Implications of Constitutional Challenges to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997," and offered to resign as UP Law Dean.
In 2011, Leonen was admonished by the Supreme Court for the "Restoring Integrity" statement.
"The separate Compliance of Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10 is found UNSATISFACTORY. He is further ADMONISHED to be more mindful of his duty, as a member of the Bar, an officer of the Court, and a Dean and professor of law, to observe full candor and honesty in his dealings with the Court and warned that the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely," the high court, through Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, said.
Leonen graduated magna cum laude from the UP School of Economics in 1983. He completed his law degree in UP in 1987.
He joined the lawyer's rolls on May 28, 1988.