SC justice: I never endorsed renovation

Second of Two Parts
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen had wan-ted the cottage assigned to him in Baguio City renovated according to his specifications, but budget restrictions prevented him from having his way, a source in the court told The Manila Times.

Marvic Leonen

Leonen was assigned Cottage G in the Supreme Court Compound, which used to be designated to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Supreme Court magistrates and their staff stay in the compound’s cottages during the court’s annual Summer Session in Baguio.

Leonen had requested the court to have Cottage G renovated, and on November 18 submitted an estimate of P4,970,623.71 for the project to the court’s Maintenance Division.

The blueprint of the cottage that The Manila Times was able to obtain shows it has three floors with three living areas, a basement, six bedrooms and a master bedroom with study room, four toilets and bath, several lanai, and a garden.

In the summary of cost signed by Engr. Raquel Torrecampo of the Maintenance Division and Antonio Bayot Jr., acting Supreme Court chief judicial officer, fixing up Cottage G would take up 90 calendar days.

Renovating the basement renovation alone will cost P1,888,983.20.

General requirements will amount to P97,000 site works P79,095 and earthworks P191,200.

Total direct cost was placed at P3,859,179. Contingencies will come to P578,876 and the value added tax will be P532,566 for a grand total of P4,970,623.71.

The Times’ insider said Leonen wanted the project approved posthaste.

But there was a snag: the court en banc must approve requests for expenses exceeding P4 million.

“Si Justice Leonen mismo ang nagbigay ng mga specifications na gusto niya na sobrang mahal kaya umabot ng P5 million ang quotation (It was Justice Leonen himself who gave the specifications, which are so expensive these reach P5 million),” the source told The Times.

On November 23, a day before the court en banc was to deliberate on the Cottage G renovation, Leonen wrote Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta requesting for a postponement, saying he wanted to review the drawings, materials and the costing prepared by the Maintenance Division.

In a statement he sent to The Times Thursday, Leonen said he never endorsed the P5 million to renovate Cottage G.

“My chambers never endorsed the P5-million proposal to renovate Cottage G in Baguio City. The proposal was drafted by the Supreme Court’s Maintenance Division and, without having gone through my office, was placed in the Court’s En Banc agenda. Upon learning of this, I immediately wrote a letter requesting that the matter be withdrawn, and it was promptly deleted,” the statement reads.

Leonen also asked The Manila Times and the media to “adhere to the highest editorial standards and thoroughly verify the information they report to the public.”

“Misleading information, whether or not motivated by malice, harms the shaping of public opinion. It skews democracy in favor of malevolent elements. Freedom of the press is a guaranteed constitutional right, but that comes with the responsibility reposed in those who wield its power. Part of journalism’s ethics is also a duty to be decent,” he said.

“Disinformation is an insult to the values congealed in free speech. Disinformation, especially from media, should end,” Leonen said.

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