Inhibit from SC case, Grace Poe accuser asks Leonen
MANILA, Philippines – Estrella Elamparo, who is seeking to disqualify Grace Poe as a presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, has asked Supreme Court (SC) Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit from the case for being Poe's "champion."
In her 7-page motion filed on Friday, January 22, Elamparo said Leonen has shown "his inability to keep his emotion and personal sentiment in check" during the first day of the oral arguments on Tuesday, January 19.
The lawyer slammed Leonen's interpellation of Poe's counsel, Alexander Poblador, calling the justice's "emotive speech" a "passionate plea" to end Poe's "difficulty." (READ: Justice Leonen: Should SC let people decide first on Poe?)
"In at least two accounts, Justice Leonen was quoted as saying that petitioner surely had a 'very difficult time' growing up not knowing who her real parents are," said Elamparo, a former student of Leonen at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
"This 'shared' experience with petitioner and the overflowing expression of empathy that came with his very candid disclosure blatantly show that the Honorable Justice has lost his impartiality and is now determined to champion the cause of petitioner."
Leonen took a different tone during his interpellation on Tuesday, and even cited his own experience growing up without a father.
The youngest among the SC justices, Leonen said during the oral arguments that magistrates of the High Court should be “justices” and not just “legalists.”
Elamparo however said, "Not only does he obviously have an opinion, his personal experience and the emotions that such experience stirs up obviously predispose him to rule in favor of petitioner."
She criticized Leonen for "prejudging" the case, when he said during Tuesday's interpellation that suffrage or the right to vote "is an aspect of sovereignty."
"He volunteered and even made petitioner's counsel read the potential basis for the dismissal of the case on the ground of supposed lack of jurisdiction of respondent Comelec (Commission on Elections). It was both disturbing and surreal," Elamparo lamented.
The lawyer even cited Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, where it is stated a judge can disqualify himself from a case for just and valid reasons. For Elamparo, this reason is Leonen's "frank admission" of going through the same difficulty as Poe, a foundling.
"That kind of very powerful empathy cannot but cloud his judgment," she added.
Previously, Elamparo, one of 4 petitioners who filed a disqualification case against Poe in the Comelec, hit the senator's "misguided ambition" to become president in 2016.
In her comment filed on January 8 with the SC, Elamparo said, "Indeed, the Honorable Court should not be misled and must only decide the case based on law and not the latest survey results. To suggest that petitioner should be allowed to remain a candidate because of public clamor is to reduce this case to a popularity contest and makes a mockery of the Honorable Tribunal's authority. This can never be countenanced."
The SC is hearing oral arguments on the consolidated petitions filed by Grace Poe which sought a review of the decisions of the Comelec cancelling her certificate of candidacy for president.
The oral arguments will resume next Tuesday, January 26. – Rappler.com
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