House sends impeachment raps vs Leonen to committee on justice
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen gives the keynote speech during the oath-taking ceremony of the 2019 Bar passers

House sends impeachment raps vs Leonen to committee on justice

(Philstar.com) - May 18, 2021 - 7:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — Congressmen on Tuesday formally turned in the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to the House Committee on Justice. 

Members of the lower chamber "overwhelmingly" adopted this afternoon the motion for the House to send the raps to the panel, according to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (Leyte). 

Rep. Julienne Baronda (Iloilo) initiated the move, in what would be the second time for lawmakers under the Duterte administration to try and oust a member of the high court. 

The last time this happened was in 2018, with then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno facing the complaint. The committee had approved the impeachment articles, but she was ousted by the Supreme Court via quo warranto petition before it even progressed. 

Said Romualdez in a statement: "The ball is now in the hands of the House Committee on Justice, ably chaired by Rep. Vicente Veloso III (Leyte), who had served as justice of the Court of Appeals."

At 58, Leonen still has 12 more years to serve in the high court before reaching the mandatory age of retirement by 2032.

The impeachment bid against Leonen stemmed from alleged failure to file his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth when he was still a University of the Philippines professor. 

It was filed by Edwin Cordevilla of the group Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government and endorsed by Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba (Ilocos Norte).

The said lawmaker is the cousin of ex-senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., whose electoral protest Leonen handled that the Supreme Court unanimously junked.

"We believe that the chairman and the members of the House of Committee on Justice will act judiciously on the impeachment complaint based on constitutional grounds and in accordance with established rules and practices," Romualdez added.

The 1987 Constitution states that the House has the exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases. The panel will hear the complaint and by a majority vote, submit to the House its report along with its corresponding resolution.

Leonen in December 2020 said he trusts that the lawmakers would do the right thing. He sought to remind that "this may not be time to attend to false issues raised by some for clearly personal or vindictive reasons."

"Given the urgent and pressing needs of our people during this time of crises, we are confident that our leaders will do the right thing," he said in a statement coursed through the Supreme Court Public Information Office. — Christian Deiparine with reports from Xave Gregorio

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