Justice Leonen, topnotcher

Mr. Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen is turning 58 years old today, December 29. But his relatively young age for a senior member of the Supreme Court hardly elicits excitement among Filipinos because instead of being a beacon for hope in a land littered with injustice, Mr. Justice Leonen has become the symbol of the injustice that his position is supposed to battle. That’s because Mr. Justice Leonen has earned the unsavory title as “topnotcher” among all the Justices of the Supreme Court for having the most number of cases gathering dust.

In yet another expose by The Manila Times, it was revealed that Mr. Justice Leonen is number one in the Third Division which he heads and in the En Banc in terms of pending cases. The expose leaves no doubt that Mr. Justice Leonen is simply slow — super-slow. He seems to have altogether discarded the principle that “justice delayed is justice denied” in the Supreme Court. How Mr. Justice Leonen continues to see himself as a knight in shining armor for justice is rather hard to understand. If he is a knight, his armor would be so rusty because of disuse in failing to tackle the cases assigned to him.

The retirement age for members of the Judiciary is 70 years old. At the rate he is going on the cases before him, he would need a huge warehouse to store the case records of these cases by the time he reaches retirement age. There is no sign that Mr. Justice Leonen intends to speed up his disposition of the cases. Not even the impeachment complaint filed before the House of Representatives has prodded him to change his ways.

If anything, this latest expose strengthens the argument that Mr. Justice Leonen doesn’t deserve to keep his position in the High Tribunal. He is a disgrace to the Judiciary. He is an insult to the fundamental democratic institutions that the Supreme Court is mandated to protect. He is an affront to the very idea of justice. Slowness is often attributed to old age, but Mr. Justice Leonen is young. Most Justices reach that high offices past the age of 60. He was just 50 when then President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III appointed him to the SC, making him the youngest Filipino to be named as Associate Justice.

There is no justification for his deliberate slowness. His continued presence in the High Court will turn the Surpeme Court into a symbol of injustice.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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