Party-list Rep. Defensor asks House: Where’s impeachment vs Leonen now?
MANILA, Philippines—A party-list member of the House of Representatives sought an update on the impeachment complaint filed against Associate Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen which had been filed more than two months ago.
Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor made a parliamentary inquiry on the complaint filed by Larry Gadon representing a client, Edwin Cordevilla.
Defensor’s inquiry came days after the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), junked the election protest filed by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. claiming he lost the 2016 vice presidential race because he was cheated by Vice President Leni Robredo.
Leonen was the ponente of the PET decision.
“What I am asking about is the status of the impeachment case,” Defensor said at plenary session on Monday (Feb. 22).
“It’s a simple question because under our rules, there should be 10 session days and the Office of the Speaker should refer it to the House committee on justice,” said Defensor, who sits in the House as representative of the medical sector.
The 40-page complaint was filed by Gadon on Dec. 7, 2020 and endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of Bongbong.
“I’d just like to know the status because we have gone beyond the days as stipulated in the rules,” said Defensor, who was formerly a regular member of the House representing a district in Quezon City.
He said he was making the inquiry “not only for myself but for the honorable Barba.” “What is the status of the impeachment case?” he said.
Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla, House senior deputy majority leader, said technically, only two session days had passed since the complaint had been filed.
“The rules state that there are 10 session days within which we can refer the matter to the House committee on justice,” said Remulla.
“However, we are only on our third session day as we have not adjourned or we have only adjourned twice before this session day. That’s why we are only on our third session day and it will be a matter of time,” Remulla said.
“We can assure the gentleman from Anakalusugan that we will refer the same to the House committee on justice when the time is right for it,” he said.
Defensor accepted Remulla’s explanation, saying the complaint had been filed before the House went on a break last December.
Another party-list representative, Abono Rep. Conrado Estrella III, also sought to assure Defensor there was enough time to refer the impeachment complaint to the justice committee.
Under House rules, the secretary general should immediately refer the impeachment complaint to the Speaker, who has 10 session days upon receipt to include it in the order of business.
The impeachment complaint should then be referred to the House justice committee within three session days.
The panel, chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, will then determine if it is sufficient in form and substance, after which formal hearings will begin.
Last week, the Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, dismissed Marcos’ protest alleging poll fraud against Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race.
Leonen is the justice-in-charge of the poll protest. The Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, rejected moves to have Leonen, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, inhibit from the case.
Gadon, a Marcos supporter, sought to remove Leonen through impeachment by citing Leonen’s alleged violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
The complaint alleged that Leonen had a backlog of 82 cases in the Supreme Court and also failed to quickly resolve cases pending before him as chair of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Leonen also allegedly failed to file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for 15 years during his tenure at the University of the Philippines.
Former Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio had described the case against Leonen as baseless.