UP Law faculty calls for dismissal of ‘baseless’ impeachment complaint vs Leonen
MANILA, Philippines—The University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law faculty on Monday (Dec. 14) called for the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
“We call on the members of the House of Representatives to do right by the people—dismiss the baseless impeachment complaint against Justice Leonen—and focus on the more important work at hand,” a statement of the faculty said.
At least 136 UP Law faculty members signed the statement.
It said the case against Leonen “strains the limits of credulity and common sense”, arguing that the complaint does not state any ground for impeachment.
They further noted that Leonen is being targeted because of his efforts to uphold laws and procedures that protect the country’s electoral process from the “whims and abuses of those seeking greater political power.”
“He is under fire because he remains a steady, sanguine, and intelligent voice against the increasingly unreasonable demands of despots-in-waiting and their cohorts,” the statement said.
The impeachment complaint against Leonen was submitted to the House of Representatives last Dec. 7, citing “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”
Edwin Cordevilla, secretary general of Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government (FLAGG), filed the complaint with assistance from lawyer Larry Gadon. It was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In the complaint, Cordevilla accused Leonen of being “negligent and incompetent” for allegedly failing to dispose of 37 cases within 24 months. This, he argued, violated the constitutional mandate on speedy disposition of cases.
Cordevilla also alleged that Leonen lacked integrity after failing to file his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) for 15 years, citing a newspaper column.
Leonen is the SC magistrate overseeing Marcos’ pending claim of electoral fraud against Vice President Leni Robredo on the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
The Marcos camp, however, denied involvement and said it had “nothing to do with the impeachment complaint.”
The UP Law faculty said that while it doesn’t agree with everything Leonen has written on the court, it vouches for his character, integrity, and principles.
“In a court of equals, Justice Leonen has emerged as a leading and respected voice for a more independent judiciary, a more responsive arbiter of rights, and a more relevant force for more meaningful freedoms,” the statement said.
“These are vital features of a working democracy in our country, which sadly has been subject to multiple assaults by the forces seeking to plunge it irretrievably into kakistocracy,” it added.
The faculty members also demanded that the Duterte administration give its undivided attention on the pandemic, saying the ongoing spectacle on the case against Leonen should not distract the government “from this far more important task.”
“We must not allow this latest assault to send our nation further down the dark road, especially while a global pandemic still hangs over all our heads and threatens to bring our society into despair and destitution,” they said.
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