Leonen draws more support from UP Law class, environmental group
MANILA, Philippines—Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who is facing an ouster bid being linked to defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., drew more support on Wednesday (Dec. 23) from his law classmates and an environmental group.
In a statement, the University of the Philippines College of Law Class of 1987, Leonen’s batch, expressed confidence that the justice would prevail over the effort to oust him through impeachment.
“We know the sterling record of the good justice will be recognized in whatever proceedings may ensue,” the group’s statement said.
It asked the public “to determine for themselves what interests are behind this impeachment complaint.”
Leonen is the justice in charge of Marcos’ electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo pending at the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
The complaint filed by a previously unheard of group, Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, and its head, Edwin Cordevilla, had been endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of the defeated vice presidential candidate.
Leonen had been charged with failing to file his statement of assets and liabilities (SALN) during his teaching days at UP which was more than 10 years ago. In an opinion in his column, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the SALN case has already prescribed and could not hold against Leonen.
Leonen had also been accused of delays in resolving at least 37 cases within 24 months, including those pending at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, which Leonen chairs. Carpio, however, said there was no undue delay in the cases and if such a rule was applied, then the Supreme Court would have no justices.
“We exhort members of Congress to exercise their prerogative wit great restraint and judicious temperament,” said Leonen’s classmates. “We are certain that both chambers of our legislature will discern the truth behind this blatantly unfair and baseless impeachment complaint,” the group said.
Rules of impeachment require the House to endorse the complaint to the Senate after a finding of probable cause. The Senate would conduct trial and decide to convict or acquit the impeached official.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific also expressed support for Leonen.
“We see this complaint as a manifestation of the disturbing trend of shrinking democratic spaces around the world,” the group said.
“It highlights the decline in democracy and increasing volatility of institutions against the interests of politics,” it said in a statement released on Wednesday (Dec. 23).
“Over 100 colleagues and lawyers have released a statement of support for Justice Leonen, and is growing in support denouncing the impeachment complaint as ‘baseless and unfounded’,” the group said.
“Marvic himself has said that the issues raised in the complaint were for ‘personal or vindictive reasons,’” the group added, using the justice’s first name.
“We trust and call on the Philippine Congress to reject this complaint, to ensure democracy is not only defended but thrives, and to protect and support judicial independence,” it added.