Namigay ng kamote pero hindi nangamote. This was the Facebook comment of lady lawyer Gaby Concepcion, a colleague of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who was seen at the UP Executive House delivering a truckload of camote for distribution to community pantries.
Some 8,000 kilos of camote in sacks, personally delivered by Baguio’s pride as the youngest appointee to the Supreme Court.
Sweet potatoes in humble sacks – escorted to the UP destination in a truck by a smiling Leonen himself riding a motorcycle and wearing blue denims and a casual black t-shirt.
This perhaps was a light-hearted way of celebrating a victory in Congress after the Committee on Justice threw out the impeachment complaint against him in a 44-0 vote.
Representatives said the allegations contained in the impeachment complaint were not based on the personal knowledge of complainant Edwin Cordevilla but rather were mostly lifted from news reports, and therefore considered hearsay.
Cordevilla, secretary general of the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance, with the assistance of Larry Gadon, filed the complaint on December 7, 2020, on charges of the now too familiar basis of impeachment moves against SC justices – failure to file statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) – in the case of Leonen, for 15 years during his tenure at the University of the Philippines. The complaint was endorsed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, a relative of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Last year, Solicitor General Jose Calida sought from the Supreme Court copies of Leonen’s SALNs intended to be used in also now his familiar way of using quo warranto petitions – this time for the removal of Leonen – which was denied.
Leonen, shortly after the dismissal of the impeachment complaint said, “A dismissal on the basis of the mere face of the impeachment complaint affirms the baselessness of the grounds raised. It is an act that powerfully speaks for itself.” He praised the House for refusing “to be used to debase and degrade sacred constitutional processes for unworthy ends.”
In a letter to his batchmates in law school, Leonen said: I had no doubt that when I applied and accepted the title that I now temporarily enjoy, that something like what we experienced would happen. I had no doubt that for me to do what, in my principles and conscience, is the right thing at the right time and in the right way will be met with pushbacks from some of those who enjoy the status quo. The kinds of change that we want to catalyze, even if incrementally, are those that would threaten many in the status quo. But I also had no doubt when I took my oath that I would take every opportunity within the framework of my duties and our legal order to do what was necessary. That is part of the job. That is who we are.
What I did not imagine however was the support that I would get especially from my batchmates. There were moments when news about what you were doing to help added to my courage and the courage of those in my chambers. We all may not see what needs to be done in the same way but I felt your understanding, compassion, trust and faith that I have no other motive in doing what I do except to do what is good for our people. I may not have executed everything perfectly, but the intention and the continued effort to learn and discover is there.
There will be a lull for now. During my tenure, I know that this is not the only threat that can happen. There will be more and I am sure we will all be ready for all of them.
I will continue to do what I need to do. I will recall , when I might be tempted to hesitate, that I am not alone. My batchmates will always be there. Maraming salamat classmates.
He signed off in true camaraderie with his batchmates – Marvic Leonen, UP Law 1987- The Best UP Law Class Ever
Hurdling the impeachment trial showed us the side of Leonen beyond his image in a black robe sitting at the Supreme Court.
But yes, this is him too, Baguio’s pride, riding a motorcycle, donned in blue jeans and a casual t-shirt, delivering camote to community pantries with a big smile, waxing sentimental with old classmates.
He is afterall a labguru too.