Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (Photo courtesy of PCOO)
By Jebrail Israel
MANILA – “Accessibility and equity are the intrinsic features of democratic institutions.”
This was the opening paragraph of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo as he issued an official press statement on the heels of an impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Monday, 07 December 2020.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque tersely denied saying President Duterte has absolutely “no hand in the impeachment case filed against the embattled associate justice in the House of Representatives.”
Panelo added that “every citizen has a right to file an impeachment complaint endorsed by a House member against an impeachable officer on grounds laid by the Constitution, following the doctrine of accountability of public officials.”
“Hence, officials holding high positions in the government, such as Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, remain accountable to the people regardless of their performance in their respective lines of duty,” Panelo said.
However, he said the Constitution also grants the presumption of innocence to those properly charged with an impeachment complaint.
“As in all our previous positions on alleged culpabilities of officials at all levels of government, and the interest of fair play and transparency, let the rule of law and the constitutional processes on impeachment take its course,” he said.
Leonen, an appointee of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is facing an impeachment complaint for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
Edwin Cordevilla, secretary general of the Filipino League of Advocates For Good Government-Maharlika (FLAG-Maharlika), submitted the impeachment complaint before the Office of the House Secretary General accompanied by counsel Atty. Larry Gadon.
In the complaint, Cordevilla accused Leonen of culpable violation of the Constitution for allegedly failing to dispose of at least 37 cases within 24 months.
Cordevilla noted that this violates the constitutional mandate requiring the speedy disposition of cases.
Panelo continued with his statement saying “every citizen may seek legal redress for grievances, the Constitution also grants the presumption of innocence to those properly charged with an impeachment complaint, as in all criminal and administrative fault-finding proceedings – and in accordance with the most basic tenet of due process that is, fundamental fairness.” (AI/MTVN)