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OSG presses bid Leonen SALN

Solicitor General Jose Calida
Solicitor General Jose Calida

THE Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is not bent on giving up as it appealed for disclosure of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN), which it intends to use for a Quo Warranto case against the latter.

In a 26-page Motion for Reconsideration dated October 22, Solicitor General Jose Calida cited five reasons why the Supreme Court should consider their bid for access to Leonen’s SALN.

Citing transparency as the administration’s government platform, Calida insisted that Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution guarantees right to information Section 28 Article II, which requires full disclosure of the SC Justices’ SALN – and that does not give an exemption on the embattled Associate Justice Leonen.

He likewise cited Republic Act 6713 and its Implementing Rules promoting full access to SALN even as he claimed that its disclosure cannot, at any circumstance, be prohibited in the guise of “regulation.”

As if these are not enough, Calida further averred that their request is compliant with the Supreme Court’s own guidelines, specifically under AM No. 09-8-6-SC.

He likewise underscored the need for the Supreme Court to “seriously consider” their motion he aptly described as reflective of the State policy on transparency.

“The Solicitor General is making the request for purposes of possible court action as he represents the State in prosecuting actions for Quo Warranto,” reads a portion of the 26-page MR seeking reversal of the high court’s September 15 en banc resolution denying OSG’s request to Leonen’s SALN.

Aside from Calida, the OSG’s deputies also affixed their signatures on the appeal. Moreover, Calida urged the high tribunal to set aside its ruling last September 15 denying the disclosure of the certified copies of Leonen’s SALN covering 1990 to 2011.

Interestingly, Leonen has yet been named as magistrate during those years. Leonen became a Supreme Court magistrate in November 2012. Before this, he was a professor of the UP College of Law and chairman of the GRP Peace Panel.

The Solicitor General, who has been actively pursuing case against Leonen, particularly asked for the high tribunal the following:

1. The Resolution dated September 15, 2020 be reconsidered and set aside;

2. A new Resolution be issued granting the OSG’s letter requests dated September 11, 2020 seeking copies of the SALNs and/or ancillary documents and information.

Calida argued that “the outright prohibition to disclose the SALNs of Associate Justice Leonen is contrary to the spirit and intent of Republic Act 6713 and its implementing rules and regulations which promotes full access of the public to SALN, though the same may be heavily regulated.”

Aside from this, Calida pointed out that the OSG request conforms with the guidelines which the High Court itself has set under AM 09-8-6-C.

The High Court which earlier disallowed the disclosure of Leonen’s SALNs didn’t cite any reason seen to justify the denial of the OSG petition.

As this developed, lawyer Larry Gadon finds it rather unusual for the Supreme Court to deny Calida’s petition even as he claimed that he made a similar plea and argued that there was a precedent, citing the impeachment complaint he initiated against then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

According to Gadon, it was the same judiciary that issued him access to the certified copies of Sereno’s SALN on Aug. 15, 2017.

“As a precedent, it is on record that the undersigned also filed the same request for certified copies of Attorney Lourdes Sereno’s SALNs which the Honorable Court granted in its Order on August 15, 2017. The Certified true copies released to the undersigned were used as one of the grounds for the impeachment case against Attorney Lourdes Sereno which was filed by the undersigned on Aug. 31, 2017. The release of the certified copies of SALNs was granted by the Honorable Supreme Court much prior to the filing of the impeachment case,” Gadon said.

Word is awaited from Associate Justice Leonen who has been silent on the issue of access to his SALN.