Leonen vows independence if appointed SC justice-A A +A
Thursday, October 25, 2012
GOVERNMENT chief negotiator Marvic Leonen assured members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that he will be an independent Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) even as he worked closely with President Benigno Aquino III in crafting a draft peace deal with Muslim rebels.
Leonen, one of the 15 aspirants for the post vacated by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, said he never had a personal or political relationship with the President.
"I was not part of the (election) campaign of the President. I came as a result of a research we did at UP (University of the Philippines) on how the problem in Mindanao could be resolved. I had to build the trust of the President on this particular issue (peace process) only," he said, adding he never commented on other issues hounding the administration.
Leonen, who took the job as chief negotiator in 2010, also allayed fears that the implementation of the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be affected if appointed.
"I would be less than the best chair of that institution if we did not able to develop other capable individuals. Any of them have the skills," he said, maintaining that the framework agreement is bigger than him.
Leonen wanted to be a "consistent and deliberate" justice as he promised to take on that role as best as he could.
Before he was appointed as negotiator, Leonen locked horns with the SC after he led the UP College of Law in asking Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo to quit his post for allegedly plagiarizing a decision involving comfort women asking for apology from the Japanese government.
Del Castillo was exonerated by the SC in its October 2010 resolution but Leonen and the rest of those who signed the statement were asked to explain why they should not be sanctioned.
"The academia performs a function of making the jurisprudence not only transparent but also legible to the public. It was the role of the academia to be a critic," he said.
Like Leonen, former Energy secretary Raphael Lotilla supported Sereno's policy of "dignified silence" regarding the inner workings of the High Court.
But Lotilla admitted this should be reconciled with the people's right to information.
"The teaching function of the court, may also require, at some level, the public, especially the media may need some guidelines on how the decision impacts the rights of individuals," he said.
Sereno earlier said she will just talk with different units in the SC on how to disseminate information coming from the Court rather than gracing media interviews.
Leonen, meanwhile, reserved his comments on the issue of political dynasty, saying he doesn't want to pre-empt the Court's action on the petitions before it.
Also interviewed on Thursday were former Regional Trial Court Judge Adoracion Cruz-Avisado, Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes; CA Justices Magdangal De Leon, Jose Reyes, Noel Tijam and Isaias Dicdican.
The other three candidates – De La Salle University Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa, and former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva – had already been interviewed in July 2012 when they were vying for the position of chief justice.
Grilled last Tuesday were CA Justices Ramon Bato and Rosemari Carandang, former University of Perpetual Help System law dean Jose Santos-Bisquera and Sandiganbayan Justice Maria Cristina Cornejo.
After the Halloween break, the JBC will meet on November 5 to come up with a shortlist of at least three nominees that will be submitted to President Aquino, who has until late November to name the last and 15th member of the High Court. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)