War of SC justices: Bersamin files complaint vs Leonen

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court justice who penned the decision granting bail to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile lodged a complaint against a fellow justice, Marvic Leonen, for alleged “gross distortion” in his widely publicized dissenting opinion.

In a one-page letter dated August 24 and addressed to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin said that Leonen’s dissent “not only put me in bad light" but also "impugned the integrity of the seven members of the Court” who voted with the majority ruling.

Those who granted the bail of Enrile and concurred in the Bersamin ponencia were Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza.

Bersamin asked that the SC en banc, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday, August 25, tackle his complaint.

Leonen was among the 4 justices who dissented in the High Tribunal’s ruling on August 18 that allowed Enrile temporary liberty even if he’s facing plunder charges, a typically non-bailable offense. The 17-page majority opinion’s main basis for the ruling is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The 3 other dissenters were Sereno herself, as well as Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe. Except for Carpio, the dissenters are appointees of President Benigno Aquino III, whose administration filed the plunder charges against Enrile and two other senators in connection with the pork barrel scam.

'Gross distortion'

In his dissenting opinion that was longer than the majority opinion, Leonen said that the ruling prompts one to conclude that “the decision is the result of obvious political accommodation rather than a judicious consideration of the facts and the law.” (READ: #AnimatED: 'Special' treatment for Juan Ponce Enrile)

He also said the case may benefit “one powerful public official at the cost of weakening our legal institutions.” If it applies to this one particular occasion only, then “it amounts to selective justice.” (READ: Let's all get out of jail now)

Bersamin referred to his complaint as: "Rectification of the Gross Distortion contained in Justice Leonen's dissent that have not only put me in bad light worse also impugned the integrity of the seven members of the Court who joined my ponencia by claiming that they signed the ponencia without knowing the version they were joining."

 

 

Bersamin also accused Leonen of “Unprecedented Invasion of the autonomy of the Majority in arriving at its Main Opinion."

Leonen said in his dissent that the revised draft decision which was circulated on August 14, 2015 was not read by the majority of the justices who joined the Bersamin ponencia.

Bersamin said he would issue a rejoinder on Tuesday to clarify this.

Controversies in the Court are nothing new. 

At the time of dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona, for example, Sereno, then an associate justice, questioned how the High Tribunal issued the temporary restraining order that it issued in favor of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in November 2011. 

The SC under Corona was also accused of flip-flopping on its decisions. 

The 91-year-old Enrile returned to work on Monday, receiving a warm welcome from the Senate staff. He refused to comment on Leonen's dissent.  – Rappler.com