Leonen clams up after appointment to SCBy Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – From media darling to media shy.
Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen has begun to shun media interviews in deference to his new position, a far cry from the days he was the government’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“You’re going to make me inhibit from a lot of cases,” a smiling Leonen told reporters Friday night at the UP Law Alumni Homecoming, where the UP Batch ’87 to which he belongs celebrated as Silver Jubilarians.
The homecoming was a gathering of sorts for the members of the high Court. There was former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former Justice now Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Justices Antonio Carpio and Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.
Carpio greeted Leonen before Batch ’87 made its grand entrance to the Makati Shangrila Ballroom, a friend of Leonen’s told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
There were several questions the Inquirer had wanted to ask Leonen: Did he recommend anyone as his replacement as government chief negotiator? How is his working relationship with fellow UP alumni and faculty member Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno? What does he perceive would be his role on the Supreme Court?
And is he prepared to spend the next 21 years of his life in seclusion?
His friends and batchmates from UP Law told the Inquirer that Leonen was equipped, prepared and capable to spend two decades on the Supreme Court.
Leonen was the preferred source of the media for explanation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro soon after it was signed by the government and MILF in Malacañang in October.
The former UP College of Law dean never seemed to get tired of explaining the context and minutest details of the Framework Agreement. And he did so with utmost ease and patience, just like a professor lecturing to a class.
“Be prepared. We’ll have a quiz after this,” a TV reporter joked after listening to Leonen’s talk at a Rotary International meeting after the Framework Agreement signing.
The Inquirer learned that it was President Aquino himself who designated Leonen to explain the Framework Agreement to the public.
Leonen said that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process will continue to be the official spokesperson on the peace process with the MILF.