Leaving a Legacy by C. De los Angeles
Our world and most especially our country has been divided for so long and as much as I dream of unity; the desire to forgive, those on the other side of the political divide keep trumpeting their propaganda of lies which makes it hard to do so.
Over the weekend, Congressman Rufus Rodriguez and former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, both legal luminaries explained the “technical lapses” of Filipino League for Good Governance’s impeachment complaint. Where were they when their comrades were crucifying the late Chief Justice Renato Corona? When it suits their political leaning they have all the answers.
Contrary to Congressman Rodriguez and former Supreme Court Carpio, “Impeachment is a political rather than a legal process,” Albert Broderick wrote in his 1974 article entitled “The Politics of Impeachment” for the American Bar Association Journal.
Their comrades proved this when they impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona if it was a purely legal process he would not have been impeached for the accusations hurdled at him.
As for Justice Marvic Leonen, his sins are far graver than what was accused of Chief Justice Renato Corona and even Chief Justice Sereno both of whom were removed.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, Vice Chair, House committee on Justice was asked recently by members of the media:
“POSSIBLE SCENARIO BA NA MANGYARI KAY JUSTICE LEONEN ‘YUNG NANGYARI KAY CJ SERENO, RE: QUO WARRANTO?”
Congressman Rodriguez answered:
“That cannot happen because the Constitution is very clear. Impeachable officials like Supreme Court associate justices can only be removed by impeachment. And the Constitution is supreme over the rules of court, definitely. And so I believe that it was a mistake for the Supreme Court to proceed with the quo warranto especially because at that time Congress had already been hearing the impeachment. So we in the House will insist on the constitutional provision, that we have the power, the exclusive jurisdiction to be able to determine whether an official, who is impeachable, there is basis for the sending of the complaint and the articles of impeachment to the Senate. So we will insist on that. This committee with our chairman justice Ching Veloso, we will ensure that we follow the Constitution this time.”
To which we asked Lawyer for Filipino League for Good Governance, Atty. Larry Gadon for his comments:
“With due respect to Dean Rufus Rodriguez , as many lawyers would agree , he can not be more authoritative than the Supreme Court , hence his interpretation of the law on removal of officials of the SC can not be more superior than the SC itself when it ruled on the removal of Sereno. We must be reminded that the SC is the final interpreter of the law.
Perhaps Cong. Rufus forgot the fact that the ground relied on the QW of Sereno is different from grounds of impeachment .
Impeachable offenses pertain to acts committed while in office .
QW pertains to grounds prior to appointment such as lack of qualification .”
While former Chief Justice Carpio was quoted to have said recently on the ongoing impeachment:
“Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that Justice Leonen failed to file his SALNs while he was teaching at the University of the Philippines, any such crime has now prescribed. In the 2018 case of Melita del Rosario v. People of the Philippines, the Supreme Court ruled that the prescriptive period for failure to file a SALN is eight years. Justice Leonen left the University of the Philippines more than 10 years ago,”
Sought for comment Atty. Larry Gadon answered:
“Justice Carpio is so confused.
Integrity does not prescribe .. because it is attached to the character of the person.
Prescription of a crime is different.. one may have been a corrupt public official whose crime of theft was not dicsovered and prosecuted that after 10 years his crime has prescribed and that he can no longer be prosecuted… BUT HE REMAINS A THEIF AND CORRUPT OFFICIAL. .. the integrity was not cleansed.
Sereno was removed not because of the crime of non filing of SALN … But for lack of integrity , lack of honesty in obeying the law .. INTEGRITY does not prescribe… It is tacked in one’s character.”
To add to support their victim claim as being bullied by the present administration as well as to show mass support “yellow” propoganda machine, ABS-CBN, claimed 100 lawyers are in support to protect Justice Leonen. Let me repeat 100 people. The number is so small and insignificant and their names were not even mentioned.
While members of Filipino League of Advocates of Good Governance launched a few hours ago on change.org to secure “1 million signatures or more” in support of the impeachment of Justice Leonen reached 100 signatures in a matter of hours and growing.
As much as we want a united country and forgive and move forward. We need to interpret the law fairly and not rationalize the law to fit our political leanings.
Justice Leonen has never hid his biases despite his brilliance. The Supreme Court is to be unbiased and fair yet how can he ever be one with such vocal and critical biases which he proudly flaunts in the media. A judge rules on the merits of his case not his personal biases. Furthermore, as a Supreme Court Justice and 3rd most senior (possibly a future Chief Justice) he must set an example and lead the way. But failing to file 15 years worth of SALN and having the most back log cases among all the Supreme Court justices as well as proudly flaunting his personal biases is not an example for the rest of the Judiciary. As much as I want to forgive and forget, we need a functioning Judicial system led by people of integrity as well as efficient in their work since as they say Justice delayed is Justice denied. For that reason, impeach Justice Leonen.