Everyone’s least favorite lawyer, Atty. Larry Gadon, is once again in the spotlight as he has helped to endorse an impeachment case against another Supreme Court Justice.
An impeachment complaint was filed earlier today against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen for “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”
The complaint, filed by Edwin Cordevilla, cites Leonen’s supposed lack of integrity “because he failed to file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN)”. Cordevilla’s source? A newspaper column which claims that the justice from the high magistrate failed to do so for 15 years.
Gadon assisted Cordevilla, who sits as Secretary General of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government, and had the complaint endorsed by Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Angelo Barba.
Leonen has since issued his statement through the Supreme Court’s public information office, saying that the pandemic isn’t the right time to “attend to false issues raised by some for clearly personal or vindictive reasons.”
Official Statement of Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen on the Impeachment Complaint pic.twitter.com/eY0ssrneZ9
— Philippine Supreme Court Public Information Office (@SCPh_PIO) December 7, 2020
Netizens who tried to read between the lines pieced together a theory that this might be the work of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who, along with Gadon, previously failed to obtain a copy of Leonen’s SALN in September—the same month when the Office of the Ombudsman changed the rules on obtaining a SALN for any public official.
Eagle-eyed netizens pointed out how Calida was the more viable target, seeing as the Solicitor General’s security firm Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency (Visai) has secured millions of pesos in government contracts.
And if unexplained wealth ang basehan para patalsikin si Justice Leonen, bakit di natin usigin muna tong si Cali/da, na ang tanging sinasabi lamang kapag tinatanong tungkol sa unexplained wealth nya ay: It’s a personal matter.
Ang kapal kapal ng mukha. pic.twitter.com/60Iy15gSmo
— Sogie Alcasid and Aya #SogieEqualityBillNow (@claudiopoy) December 7, 2020
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno also chimed in, saying the impeachment complaint was more of a Marcos play than a Duterte act.
Palpak sa quo warranto at motion to inhibit, ngayon sa impeachment ipipilit. Looks like the Marcoses are trying all their tactics on AJ Leonen. Iba na ang may kapangyarihan—ang daling baluktutin ng batas at mga institusyon natin para sa sariling kapakanan. Wag natin payagan yan. https://t.co/5qHfUKhzqD
— Chel Diokno (@ChelDiokno) December 7, 2020
Leonen sits as one of the presiding justices in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which has yet to decide on defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest four years after it was filed.
Some simply pointed out how the Duterte administration seems to have a double standard when it comes to SALNs, as Duterte himself has failed to release his since 2018.
GRABE TALAGA, NOH?
Pag si Duterte, okay lang hindi mag-release ng SALN mula pa noong 2018. Pero 'yung mga matitinong Justices gaya ni Sereno at Leonen na hindi payag sa mga kabulastugan ng mga demonyong buwitre sa gobyerno, impeachment case agad.
DUTERTE DOUBLE STANDARD!
— Francis Baraan IV (@MrFrankBaraan) December 7, 2020
Others simply called for support, like bar top-notcher Atty. Mae Diane Azores.
— Diane♥️✊ (@MaeDianeAzores) December 7, 2020
A quick look at Visai shows that it is indeed owned by the Calidas, though the Solicitor General himself is no longer part of the firm.
This piece published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2018 explains why Visai’s government contracts are legal. It may be an opinion piece, but it breaks down the definition of conflict of interest and the pertinent laws that Calida might have violated had his position in the Cabinet been different.
It explains how Calida’s position as Solicitor General—and the actions he took prior to taking the post—virtually absolve him from any cases that the public may seek to file against him for conflict of interest.
The impeachment case, on the other hand, has clear signs of personal interest for Rep. Barba, as he is the cousin of defeated VP candidate Marcos—even as he claims he was merely acting to support Cordevilla’s complaint.