Leonen stays as ponente in Marcos electoral protest

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    SUPREME Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen will still be the ponente in the electoral protest filed by defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

    Magistrates of the high court yesterday unanimously refused to remove Leonen as the associate justice in-charge of writing the decision on the electoral complaint as they ruled to junk the separate petitions filed by Marcos and Solicitor General Jose Calida.

    Both Marcos and Calida wanted Leonen out of the electoral case because of the associate justice’s alleged bias against the Marcos family, citing his dissenting opinion on the SC’s decision on the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

    Marcos had also cited Leonen’s stint as the government chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during the Aquino administration.

    Leonen was appointed to the SC by former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III, along with the previous ponente of the case, Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

    Marcos had also asked the SC to throw out Caguioa from his electoral protest, but this, too, was rejected by the high court last year.

    Calida, though not a party to the electoral complaint, also sought Leonen’s inhibition from the case using the same arguments raised by the Marcos camp. He filed his pleading just hours after Marcos filed his petition.

    Calida headed the Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong which pushed for the Duterte-Marcos tandem in the 2016 polls.

    In their submissions to the Supreme Court, both Marcos and Calida relied heavily and quoted extensively from news articles (NOT from the Malaya) imputing bias on the part of Leonen in handling the Marcos protest.

    In the same ruling that junked Marcos’ and Calida’s petitions, the SC also “directed Calida and Jomar Canlas, reporter of the Manila Times, to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt.”