'Divorced' SC justice reveals what he will swap for job

Posted at 05/28/2013 5:38 PM | Updated as of 05/28/2013 9:08 PM

MANILA - He used to be one of the critics of the Supreme Court, but Associate Justice Marvic Leonen is now comfortable in the same hall with the so-called “Gods of Padre Faura."

But if there is one thing he would gladly exchange for being a magistrate, it’s his being a father.

“That’s one of the best roles…which I won’t even exchange for my own career [now],” he said on ANC's Pipol.

Leonen admitted that he is now “divorced” from his wife.

“I’m divorced…My daughter’s primary residence is with her mother," he told Pipol host Ces Drilon.

He said, however, that he has maintained friendly relations with his ex-wife.

“I am allowed that space with my daughter…She [daughter] is sharp…Her questions are becoming more challenging everyday,” he said.

Despite their divorce, Leonen said his ex-wife has been supportive “of all things I have gotten myself into.”

Leonen became one of the youngest to be appointed SC justice in November last year. He was then in the thick of talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separatists for the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity.

Prior to his work in the peace panel, Leonen was dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The 50-year-old Leonen admitted that his being a member of the SC is “more attuned with my temperament.”

He said part of his job then as head of the government panel in the peace talks was facing the media “which [I] did not like too much.”

In the high court, Leonen said there is a “life of seclusion,” contrary to what he used to do when he was in the academe and in the executive branch.

“My social life is not robust as before. I now have to choose venues where I speak…,” he said.

He describes his colleagues in the high court as having “a lot of respect” and "collegiality" for each other.

Asked to describe his stint so far in the high tribunal, Leonen said: “The concept of dignified silence is overrated…The people in the judiciary are not politicians. We talk in a very [reasonable] way.

“The 15 magistrates [have] their own life stories…There’s a lot of camaraderie in the court. There’s a lot of openness and understanding of each other’s points of view."