MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has endorsed the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, three months after it was filed by an anti-corruption watchdog group in December 2020.
“We endorse the original copies of the impeachment complaint filed by Mr. Edwin Cordevilla against Justice Leonen of the SC,” read a portion of the order Velasco issued to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, who heads the House committee on rules.
The single-page order delved on the “inclusion in the order of business” of Leonen’s impeachment complaint.
It was dated March 25, the day before Congress went on a legislative break.
The document was received by the House rules committee on the same day, where it has three session days to refer the impeachment complaint to the House committee on justice headed by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a former Court of Appeals justice.
Congress will resume session on May 17 until June 4.
Under House rules, the justice panel has 60 session days within which to act on the suit.
Last month, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla – in behalf of the House leadership – vowed to take action on the Leonen impeachment complaint in due time.null
“It will be a matter of time Mr. Speaker, before… we can assure the gentleman from Anakalusugan that we will refer the same to the committee on justice when the time is right for it,” the Cavite congressman said.
Remulla is a classmate of Leonen in the UP College of Law Batch ’87.
He made the assurance after Rep. Mike Defensor raised a query, considering that Congress will have its recess even as the complaint was filed by the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government (FLAGG) last December.
“I would just like to know the status your honor, because we have already exceeded the 10 session days indicated in our rules,” he reiterated, adding Ilocos Norte Representative Angelo Marcos-Barba, who endorsed the complaint, also wanted to know the complaint’s status.
“It’s a simple question. The office of the Speaker should refer it to the committee on justice. So, I would just like to know the status, not only for myself but for the honorable Barba – what is the status of the impeachment case?” Defensor asked.
But Remulla defended the apparent delay and claimed there is no violation. “The rules state that there are 10 session days within which we can refer the matter to the committee on justice,” he said.
Leonen’s impeachment complaint has been received by Velasco’s office on Dec. 16 last year.
The SC justice is facing an impeachment complaint filed by FLAGG secretary-general Cordevilla, primarily due to his alleged failure to file his assets and liabilities for 15 years, and for delaying the resolution of cases pending in his office.
Cordevilla’s counsel is Larry Gadon who succeeded in having former chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno removed in 2018 for the same offense – failing to file her statement of assets and liabilities for years.
Cordevilla pointed out that if Sereno was removed in 2018 for failing to file her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for six years, then all the more reason should Leonen suffer the same fate because his omission ran for 15 long years.
“Since Leonen failed to file his SALN for 15 years, it would be difficult for the investigating authorities to pin him down in the event that a corruption case is filed against him,” he maintained.
“If Leonen wakes up one day and decides to build a castle for his retirement home, it would be next to impossible to examine his assets and net worth since these were never filed for 15 whole years,” he added, reiterating that the jurist “completely ignored the law.”
Cordevilla maintained that Leonen – who was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III in November 2012 – also “lacks integrity because he willfully and intentionally failed to file his SALN during his years at UP, which is a mandatory requirement for all public officers.”
Leonen was a professional lecturer at UP from 1989 until 2011, a year before he joined the SC.
“Leonen lacks integrity because he failed to file his SALNs as required by law. He has betrayed public trust,” he emphasized, as he cited as well Leonen’s “bias and partiality” towards Aquino’s Liberal Party where his votes were very “apparent” inall SC cases.
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan