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Impeach Leonen? About time!

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - December 12, 2020 - 12:00am

On November 24, 2017, Bar topnotcher and former Noynoy Aquino solicitor general Florin Hilbay had this tweet for aspiring lawyers: "Those taking the bar examinations who doubt their ability to pass that test, think of attorney Larry Gadon." There can be no ambiguity about what Hilbay meant and I will not be a party to his insult and condescension by paraphrasing him.

Hilbay, who placed first in the 1999 Bar, has a long and impressive list under alma matter in my Google search: UST, UP, Yale, Boston College, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Law, National University of Singapore, and Silliman University. My searches for Larry Gadon yielded mostly demeaning and derogatory entries. Clearly, the comparison is of apples versus lemons.

But in the 2019 elections when both launched failed bids for a seat in the Philippine Senate, the Aquino-identified Hilbay placed 29th in a field of 62 candidates. Guess who placed a notch above Hilbay? Why, the Marcos-affiliated Larry Gadon, of course, at #28. It seems more people preferred the lemon to the apple. And it does not always pay to put other people down, no matter how lowly or disrespectful you may tend toward them.

Last Monday, Gadon accompanied Edwin Cordevilla, said to be the secretary-general of a group calling itself the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, in filing an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen at the House of Representatives. This is not the first impeachment case for Gadon, having previously filed similar action that eventually led to the removal of then chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The complaint was then endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, complying with the first steps in the process. Barba is the first cousin of former senator Bongbong Marcos whose protest against the results of the 2016 vice presidential race has been languishing at the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. Leonen is the justice assigned to the case.

An Aquino appointee, just as Sereno was, Leonen refused to go when Marcos asked him to inhibit, citing previous statements and characterizations that tended to put him and the Marcos family down. Leonen likewise ignored calls by Marcos to speed up resolution of the case lest it be overtaken by events that might render it moot and academic, the next presidential election now effectively just a year and a half away.

The temptation is great to think of this impeachment as just one more episode in the continuing saga of the Marcos and Aquino families. After all, parties to the case do have direct or indirect lines of affiliation to either family. But that is an easy trap to fall into. The fact of the matter is, the reasons for wanting to impeach Leonen are valid even without acknowledging the clearly partisan veneer of the case.

The Marcos protest, by any other name, has clearly gathered dust on Lenen's desk for far too long. And it has been reported, without comment from Leonen, that there are other overdue cases as well. Even more damning, a columnist has been harping about Leonen not having filed several SALNs, a claim Leonen has hedged and refused to answer. Impeachment as a political ploy? Maybe. But it has real and valid uses. It is what it is. Impeach!

NOYNOY AQUINO
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