Grounds for impeachment vs Leonen 'wobbly,' ex-chief justice says


Posted at Dec 16 2020 10:23 AM

Grounds for impeachment vs Leonen 'wobbly,' ex-chief justice says 1
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. Photo from Supreme Court of the Philippines website

MANILA - The impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen is unlikely to pass because its grounds are "wobbly," former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said Wednesday.

"I think it will have difficulty passing because the grounds therefore are wobbly, in my opinion," he told ANC's "Matters of Fact".

"First, he says that Marvic Leonen, as a justice of the Supreme Court, have been delayed in the resolution of the cases assigned to him. He has not produced evidence to that in the first place."

Panganiban also said the complainant had no conclusive proof that Leonen did not file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) while he was teaching at the University of the Philippines.

Lawyer Larry 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.

He alleged Leonen failed to resolve 37 of 82 pending cases within 24 months, supposedly violating section 15(1) of Article VIII of the Constitution, which requires all cases to be resolved within 24 months from the date of submission to the SC.

Gadon, a known Marcos loyalist, also accused Leonen of betrayal of public trust for allegedly failing to file his SALN while he was teaching at the University of the Philippines.

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

Panganiban believed the impeachment complaint was used to "fish for evidence" by using the "coercive power" of the lower chamber's committee on justice.

"I think impeachment has been cheapened in the sense that it is raised even if the grounds are not very clear, not very justiciable, not very apt for the process," he said.

"Impeachment is such a high proceeding that it should be used sparingly only when the ground is secure and sure to respect the independence of our judiciary."

In an earlier statement, Leonen had thus far not commented on the specific allegations.

However, he 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.”

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