SC maintains a ‘no’ to SolGen’s bid for Justice Leonen’s SALN
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has stood by its decision rejecting the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) request to access Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth ( SALN).
“The Court denied the Motion for Reconsideration dated Oct. 22, 2020 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, praying that: the resolution dated Sept. 15, 2020 be reconsidered and set aside and a new resolution be issued granting the OSG’s letter-requests…seeking copies of the SALNs and/or ancillary documents and information,” the high court said.
The OSG wants access to Leone’s SALN to initiate a quo warranto petition, similar to former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Sereno was the first constitutional officer to be removed from office without an impeachment proceeding.
A quo warranto is a challenge to an official’s qualification for a particular position.
Section 11 of Rule 77 of the Rules of Court states that the action (filing of quo warranto petition) shall commence within one year of the person taking office.
However, a Supreme Court justice under the law can only be removed by impeachment.
In his dissenting opinion two years ago, Leonen said, “even if the Chief Justice has failed our expectations, quo warranto, as a process to oust an impeachable officer and a sitting member of the Supreme Court, is a legal abomination.”
Leonen said granting Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition, thus removing Sereno from office, could open the floodgates to similar moves against others in the judiciary.
“We render this Court subservient to an aggressive Solicitor General. We render those who present dissenting opinions unnecessarily vulnerable to powerful interests,” Leonen said in his 2018 dissenting opinion on the ruling that removed Sereno from office.
Leonen served in various capacities in UP, including as vice president for legal affairs and dean of the College of Law.
He left UP in 2010 to become the government’s chief peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012.
Leonen, along with Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguiao and Estela Perlas Bernabe, is the only remaining Aquino appointees in the 15-member SC. He is a consistent dissenter in several cases.
The rest were appointees of President Duterte. [ac]
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