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CA justice whipped, Leonen gets mere slap on the wrist?

Marvic Leonen
Marvic Leonen

RUMBLINGS of displeasure and disappointment are swirling around the Philippine justice system in the wake of the Supreme Court’s harsh punishment of a Court of Appeals magistrate because of inefficiency.

In a recent decision the SC found Justice Marilyn B. Lagura-Yap guilty of gross inefficiency for her failure to decide on 160 cases during her stint as the Presiding Judge of Branch 28 of the Mandaue City Regional Trial Court.

The SC discovered that Justice Yap failed to submit the cases within the reglementary period and also she did not comply with the certification of caseload before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) as required when she applied for the CA post in 2011.

As a penalty for her inefficiency, the High Court fined Justice Lagura-Yap an amount equivalent to one year of her salary. She was likewise admonished to be more diligent in the performance of her sworn duty especially now that she is an Associate Justice of the CA.

This decision does not sit well with others especially those who are following magistrates’ performances both in the CA as well as in the Supreme Court.

According to some groups, it was so unfair to penalize Justice Lagura-Yap with a one year fine while there is a Senior Associate Justice in the Supreme Court with still pending cases to resolve.

Instead of penalizing one of their own, it seems that he was being treated with kid gloves for his inefficiency. The groups identify him as Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, one of the senior justices of the High Tribunal.

SC records showed that Leonen topped the list with a number of pending cases. He has 37 cases which are already ripe for decision but remain unresolved.

One of these cases is the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Maria Leonor Robredo who was accused of cheating the vice presidential race during 2016 elections.

Leonen was in charge of the case in October 2019 but he made his first move on the case only last month. Through a resolution, he asked the Commission on Elections and the Office of the Solicitor General to comment on whether to annul the votes cast in certain Mindanao provinces.

Some quarters have criticized Leonen for the delays in handling and resolving these cases, especially the Marcos electoral protest, which were assigned to him.

Sources from the Supreme Court revealed that other senior justices who are much older than Leonen have better records when it comes to resolving cases. It is said that aside from Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Senior Associate Justice Estela-Perlas Bernabe, Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Justice Alexander Gesmundo, Leonen is the third most senior justice in the high court.

Peralta according to the source has only one aging case, while Bernabe has none, Gesmundo has five, while Caguioa has 15 and Leonen has 82. #

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Hector Lawas
Court reporter for more than 20 years