Palace: Up to Congress to handle impeachment complaint vs Leonen

Palace: Up to Congress to handle impeachment complaint vs Leonen

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is leaving it up to the House of Representatives to decide on the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who has been accused of failing to file his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and to resolve a number of cases in a timely manner.

"According to the Constitution, that is under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives. We leave that to the House," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Thursday, when asked to react to the impeachment complaint against Leonen.

The impeachment rap against Leonen, an appointee of former president Benigno Aquino III, was filed last December by Edwin Cordevilla, secretary-general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government. Cordevilla claimed Leonen betrayed public trust when he had failed to file his SALN for 15 years while he was at the University of the Philippines. The magistrate was also accused of violating the Constitution when he had failed to dispose of at least 37 cases within two years.

Cordevilla's complaint was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a cousin of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., whose election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo was junked by the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) last February. Marcos asked the PET to reconsider its ruling on his poll protest earlier this month.

Last Tuesday, the complaint against Leonen was referred to the House justice committee, which is expected to come up with a report within 60 days from the referral. House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez has expressed confidence that the justice committee would act judiciously on the complaint "based on constitutional grounds and in accordance with established rules and practices."

In 2018, the Supreme Court voided the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice because of her failure to submit some of her SALNs. The high Court said Sereno, who was appointed by Aquino as chief justice in 2012, was ineligible to occupy the post because of "lack of integrity." The decision stemmed from a quo warranto petition by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who argued that Sereno had failed to prove her integrity as required by the Constitution.

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