Removing Leonen would be a setback for the Supreme Court, says lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2021 11:07 AM

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MANILA - The move to impeach Associate Justice Marvic Leonen would have been a setback for the Supreme Court if it had been successful, a lawmaker said Friday.

"I would believe that if Leonen was removed from office, the Supreme Court will not have a voice of independence, a voice of probity, a voice who decides based on the facts of the case, the evidence and his conscience," Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Leonen is among the last 3 remaining appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III in the Supreme Court, as the tribunal is now dominated by magistrates handpicked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The House of Representatives justice committee earlier junked the impeachment complaint against Leonen for being insufficient in form. 

Voting 44-2-0, the members of the panel found that Edwin Cordevilla, secretary-general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, lacked personal knowledge and authentic documents for his complaint — both of which are key requirements for the impeachment proceedings.

Rodriguez said while there were allegations that the case was politically motivated, the committee did not consider these in dismissing the case. 

"We in the House of Representatives, in the Committee on Justice will not go into motives of filing, of what was the reason. We have to go into the evidence before us. So what was the evidence or non-evidence before the committee? Clearly, we decided based on what we see: the complaint and the annexes. We discard any allegedly the motive, the speculations about this and go directly to the evidence because that is our duty," he told .

The impeachment complaint, filed by Edwin Cordevilla, secretary-general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Barba, cousin of defeated vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Leonen penned the decision of the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, that dismissed Marcos' protest against Vice President Leni Robredo and confirmed the former senator's loss in the 2016 elections.

"Yes, he is a cousin of former Senator, candidate for vice president Bongbong Marcos. But once again, in my own personal feeling, I will not go into any motive, any speculation," Rodriguez said when asked about whether or not he saw the complaint as retaliation.

"I saw, I read, I studied the case carefully, read all of the allegations, and I can say that it was dismissible without any regard to any possible speculation on the reason of the filing of this case," he said.

Rodriguez said with the one-year ban on impeachment complaints against Leonen, critics now have to "wait and prepare and probably be able to have more evidence which are directly of their own personal knowledge and authentic documents."


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