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Lawyer seeks quo warranto to remove another SC justice

Will Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor “Marvic” Leonen suffer the same fate as that of Maria Lourdes Sereno who was removed from her post as Chief Justice through quo warranto proceedings in 2018?

This developed after lawyer Larry Gadon on Friday expressed optimism that Solicitor General Jose Calida would act favorably on his letter-request for the SolGen’s office to file a quo warranto petition that would lead to the ouster of Leonen from his post allegedly for non-submission of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

Gadon recalled that it was Calida’s petition for quo warranto that nullified the appointment of Sereno as Chief Justice for six years, also for non-filing of her SALN.

“I am confident that Solicitor General Calida will grant my request,” Gadon said.

The Manila Standard sent Calida a text message seeking his reaction but he didn’t reply. Sought for comment through the SC Public Information Office chief, lawyer Brian Keith Hosaka said: “Justice Leonen has no comment on this matter.”

The law, Republic Act No. 6713 of 1989 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, requires all state officials and employees to file their SALNs yearly.

Gadon already sent a September 7 letter to Calida requesting the Solicitor General to file a quo warranto petition against Leonen, just like what he did in the case of Sereno.

“If Sereno was ousted from the Supreme Court due to lack of integrity as exemplified by her non-filing of SALNs in UP (University of the Philippines) for many years, then there is no reason why the same standard should not be applied to AJ Leonen,” Gadon wrote in his letter-request. “I therefore respectfully urge and request the Office of the Solicitor General to institute Quo Warranto proceedings against AJ Leonen.”

Manila Times columnist Rigoberto “Bobi” D. Tiglao earlier revealed in his column that Leonen allegedly did not submit his SALN for 15 years.

Tiglao claimed that Leonen allegedly “failed to file his SALN for 15 years from the time he joined the University of the Philippines (UP) faculty from 1989 to 2003 and for the years 2008 to 2009.”

“The Central Records Division of the Office of the Ombudsman reported that they have on file only Leonen’s SALNs for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. Civil Service Commission’s Resolution 1500088 of 2015 ordered all state universities (and several other state entities) to turn over all the SALNs submitted to it to the ombudsman,” Tiglao said.

Tiglao said that it was the Office of the Ombudsman’s response to his freedom of information request under Executive Order (EO) No. 2 of 2016 that he had filed.

According to Tiglao, “Leonen joined the state university faculty in 1989 and since then had been there in various capacities, even as vice president for legal affairs in 2005 and UP Law School dean in 2008, which means he had not submitted his SALNs from 1989 to 2003, and for 2008 and 2009 — a total of 15 years. He left UP in July 2010 to become the government’s chief negotiator with the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He was appointed to the high court on Nov. 21, 2012.”

“I wrote a letter (dated August 24) to Leonen, coursed through Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, which asked him if indeed he failed to file his SALNs for these 15 years. Marquez confirmed Leonen’s receipt of my letter,” Tiglao said.

“Leonen didn’t reply to me. It was instead the Supreme Court’s Chief of Public Information Brian Hosaka, after acknowledging receipt by Leonen of my letter, who replied as follows: ‘Due to their constitutional functions which require strict independence and impartiality on all matters brought before them, not all members of the judiciary may be obliged to personally assist or advise you on your research regardless if it may lead to praise or criticism of their person or work, or the person or work of another judge or justice. Personal information about judges and justices are either privileged or are covered by specific processes provided for by the constitution, laws or court resolutions,” he wrote.

On June 19, 2018, the SC voted 8-6 affirming its earlier ruling on Calida’s petition, effectively throwing out Sereno’s motion for reconsideration seeking to overturn the high court’s decision ousting her as chief justice.

The SC stressed that Sereno lacked the integrity to lead the high tribunal due to her failure to file “a substantial number” of SALNs and her failure to submit as required the SALNs to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) during her application for the judiciary’s top post.

Topics: Mario Victor “Marvic” Leonen , Maria Lourdes Sereno , quo warranto
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