(UPDATED) Voting 37-0 with zero abstentions among those present virtually, the House of Representatives committee on justice on Thursday, May 27, 2021, dismissed outright the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen, after determining that it is based on hearsay and is not based on authentic records.

“What we have, in sum, is an ‘unsigned’ impeachment complaint that is provided for in Section 3, third paragraph, due to the failure of the complainant to verify his allegations as true and correct based on his personal knowledge, or authentic records,” committee chairman Leyte 3rd District Vicente S.F. Veloso said.

Veloso said the complaint will be returned to the House secretary general together with an explanation for its outright dismissal.

This was the first impeachment proceedings under the 18th Congress, Veloso noted.

Leonen, who is also the chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), handled the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo. The case was dismissed on February 16, 2021 for lack of merit.

The impeachment complaint was filed by Edwin Cordevilla, secretary general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance, and endorsed by Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba.

Leonen was accused of failure to disclose 37 cases within 34 months as mandated by the Constitution, delaying the resolution of cases pending before the HRET, and betrayal of public trust due to his failure to file his statement of assets and liabilities during his tenure at the University of the Philippines.

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez described the complaint as “undeniably, purely hearsay,” which would not stand in any proceedings.

He said the allegations were not supported by authentic documents, which should be certified either as original or as true copy.

“All the annexes are all Xerox copies and mainly coming from newspaper reports,” Rodriguez said. Some of the annexes were also mere printouts of online news reports.

Rodriguez also said the allegations were not based on the complainant’s personal knowledge.

“A perusal of the complaint itself and the annexes would show that not one matter, not one annex, is based on his personal knowledge,” he said.

While the complainant submitted some Supreme Court records on the cases handled by Leonen, Rodriguez noted that Cordevilla could not have personal knowledge of these records since he is not a member of the Supreme Court.

Moreover, Rodriguez noted that a member of the Supreme Court could not divulge records under their confidentiality rule.

“The complaint violates the rules on disclosure and confidentiality of the Supreme Court, especially the allegations relating to docket management and case disposition issues,” Rodriguez said. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)