THE most junior magistrate of the Supreme Court, Justice Marvic Leonen, is now in danger of being penalized by the court, after he was accused by SC Justice Lucas Bersamin of violating internal rules of the tribunal by disclosing the magistrates’ confidential deliberations in the case of granting bail to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
In a five-page rejoinder submitted to the SC en banc for the August 25 agenda, Bersamin accused Leonen of overstepping his bounds and having lack of respect for the majority ruling. On Tuesday, August 18, the High Tribunal voted 8-4 in favor of Enrile’s petition for bail. The 17-page majority opinion’s main basis for the grant of bail is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Leonen, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno dissented from the majority ruling in the Enrile case.
Bersamin’s rejoinder was leaked to the media, and not through lawyer Theodore Te, SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief, for fear that it would terminate his version of the story, since Sereno, Leonen and Te were allies at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
He said, “Justice Leonen thereby accused me of misleading my colleagues in the majority by passing around for their signatures during the oral arguments on the Torre de Manila case a version of my ponencia different from what had been voted on. My second impression was that Justice Leonen was blaming my colleagues in the majority for affixing their signatures [to]the final version of the ponencia despite not having known the contents.”
Specifically, Bersamin accused Leonen of violating Section 2, Rule 10 of the Internal Rules of Court on matters of confidential deliberations of the SC justices.
“I humbly submit, too, that Justice Leonen violated Section 2, Rule 10 of the Internal Rules of Court, which treats court deliberations as confidential and not to be disclosed to outside parties,” he said.
Berrsamin argued that Leonen is just whining about his losing views, and instead of respecting the majority ruling, he went out of control to show the public that he is “self-righteous.”
The senior magistrate said he issued the rejoinder “in self-defense, because the comments of Justice Leonen, if left without any rectification, might be held to be the truth. Obviously, such comments were not the truth, but were the result of a self-righteous mindset.”