Leonen is new SC justice

Posted at 11/21/2012 4:09 PM | Updated as of 11/21/2012 6:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has chosen former UP Law Dean Mario Victor "Marvic" Leonen to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

"The President has appointed Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court after having received the shortlist from the Judicial and Bar Council and interviewing each nominee," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.

"President Aquino views his appointment as a contribution to his vision of an independent, empowered and reformist judiciary," he added.

Leonen fills up the position vacated by Maria Lourdes Sereno who was appointed Chief Justice last August. Prior to his appointment to the High Court, Leonen served as the government's chief negotiator in the ongoing peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The former UP law dean was considered a frontrunner for the position after crafting the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro signed by the GPH and MILF last month.

At 49, he is considered the youngest member of the Supreme Court and the youngest to be appointed to the SC since 1938. He will turn 50 next month.

Lacierda said Leonen's work on the government peace negotiations contributed significantly to the cause of a "just, dignified and lasting peace with our Muslim brothers and sisters by keeping with the spirit and the letter of the Constitution."

He said MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal wrote a letter to endorse Leonen's SC bid with the assurance that the MILF peace panel can work with any chairman of any gender.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita "Ging" Deles will announce the new chairperson of the government peace panel.

Report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News