Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen was confirmed to be in Zamboanga City, the station used by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on the eve of the gruesome killing of 44 commandos from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).
According to an unimpeachable source of The Manila Times, Leonen was in the city on January 24, 2015, a day before the elite police troops were killed in their pursuit of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.
Zamboanga City was reportedly the station where President Aquino and his men went into a “huddle” for the PNP-SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.
The source said that Leonen went to Tawi-Tawi for the inauguration of the Hall of Justice in the province that was also attended by Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Hakim Abdulwahid.
The SC associate justice was sent by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to represent her in the inauguration.
Their photos at the inauguration were posted on the SC Public Information Office website.
The Manila Times source said Leonen proceeded to Zamboanga City from Tawi-Tawi and allegedly asked Zamboanga judges for their support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law that is pending in Congress.
The SC associate justice was former chairman of the government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Leonen is an architect of the proposed BBL, his “baby,” according to the source.
He was appointed by Aquino to the High Court supposedly as a reward for leading the government peace panel in dealing with the MILF.
The Manila Times tried to get a reaction from Leonen whether he talked with the President during his stay in Zamboanga City or consulted by Aquino on the Mamasapano operation.
A text message that he sent in response to The Times query was forwarded by SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te:
“From Justice Leonen—I was in Zamboanga from about 9:30 am to 2:30 p.m. January 24. I was there to represent CJ [Sereno] in inaugurating the hall of justice at Tawi Tawi. My flight was at about 2:30. Was just passing through from Tawi-Tawi but wanted to meet judges just to get to know them. Mamasapano was January 25. Pnoy was in Zamboanga January 26 I think. The whole time I was with judges, I didn’t even know there was anything going on,” the text massage of Leonen read.
Two SC justices who talked to The Manila Times on condition of anonymity said Leonen should refrain from campaigning for passage of the BBL.
“He is no longer in the executive department. He is now in the Supreme Court. He should be very careful with his actions specially he should refrain from talking with [the President],” one of the justices said.