MANILA - A controversial once-suspended lawyer facing several disbarment complaints on Tuesday claimed he was more qualified than Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the second youngest appointee to the high court who he has sought to be removed.
"I am more qualified than Leonen in terms of experience in litigation, in terms of knowledge of law," lawyer Larry Gadon, who was also suspended by the high tribunal in 2019 over foul language, told ANC's "Matters of Fact".
This, after Gadon filed before the House of Representatives an impeachment complaint against Leonen over “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”
Citing a newspaper article, he accused Leonen of culpable violation of the Constitution for supposedly delaying resolution of pending cases before the high court.
The pro-Marcos lawyer also accused Leonen of betrayal of public trust for allegedly failing to file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) while he was teaching at the University of the Philippines for 15 years.
Leonen is the member-in-charge of the electoral protest of defeated 2016 vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo. The case is pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), where high court members sit.
"He has no experience in litigation. He has no experience in judiciary. He has no equivalent experience in government to be appointed as Supreme Court Associate Justice," Gadon claimed.
The lawyer, a failed senatorial candidate in the 2019 elections, further criticized Leonen as "incompetent, lazy and biased" supposedly because the associate justice has 82 pending cases yet to be resolved.
"For me, as a lawyer, that's unacceptable because he's a member of the Supreme Court. If he can dismiss or suspend judges who committed less crimes than 82 backlog cases, then why not Leonen, why not Marvic Leonen?" he said when asked over his seeming penchant for going after members of the high tribunal.
Under Section 15(1) of Article VIII of the Constitution, cases must be resolved within 24 months from the date of submission to the SC.
Gadon also filed the impeachment complaint against Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was removed as chief justice in 2018 through a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
In the interview, the lawyer dismissed anew speculation the Marcoses were behind the impeachment complaint against Leonen.
"Bongbong Marcos has nothing to do with this. Whatever I do is my own decision. I have seen the protest of Bongbong Marcos is being delayed by Leonen purposely or deliberately," he said.
A cousin of Bongbong, Ilocos Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, endorsed the complaint in the lower chamber. The defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Leonen has yet to comment on Gadon's latest attacks, but earlier said his chambers had received information about the impeachment complaint filed against him.
Leonen said he was confident House leaders would “do the right thing” in prioritizing more “urgent and pressing needs of our people” instead of “false issues raised by some for clearly personal or vindictive reasons.”
Before he was named to the high court in 2012, Leonen was the government's chief peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
He also served as dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Law. 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.
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.
Leonen will sit in the Supreme Court until he reaches retirement age in 2032.
Gadon facing 4 disbarment complaints
Meanwhile, Gadon became notorious for filing an impeachment complaint against Sereno and for calling the then top magistrate's supporters "mga bobo" (stupid) and flashing the middle finger at them outside the high court compound in Baguio City.
He also represented Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy, the hooded figure in the "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos who initially linked the President and his family to illegal drugs, only to turn around and accuse opposition figures of organizing a plot to oust the President.
Gadon is still facing 4 disbarment complaints.
These include one filed in 2016 after he allegedly said Muslims should be killed to attain peace in Mindanao. Another was filed by Wilfredo Garrido Jr. over his supposed arrogance at the House of Representatives during a committee hearing on the impeachment complaint he filed against Sereno.
Two other cases were filed against him for his "bobo" antics in Baguio City at the height of quo warranto proceedings against the then chief magistrate in April 2018. He has brushed aside the allegations as baseless.
ABS-CBN also reported in October last year that Gadon had not been attending mandatory seminars for lawyers over the past 10 years.
- With reports from Mike Navallo and Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News