Two years ago, I summed up my list of Ten Best Lawyers in the Philippines.Today, the number 8 man on my list hit the headlines: Saklolo Leano. According to news reports, Sak -- as people are fond of calling him -- was appointed as co-counsel for the defense of the President in the impeachment trial.
"8. Saklolo Leano
He is considered as one of the few experts in aviation law, and is constantly battling the world's best lawyers in this field. I had the privilege of working with him in the multi-billion peso construction arbitration case against a French contractor and would forever be in awe of this great lawyer. Sak was our hitman against the French's expert witness, a lawyer-engineer with very impressive academic and professional credentials. Sak cross-examined the expert witness like a cook peeling off the skin of an onion. He was subtle, precise, organized, logical and persuasive. The French tried his best to live up to his client's expectations but he was no match. At one high point of the cross-examination, Sak, with his pleasant and clear voice told the witness, 'Mr. Smith, I am very sorry to say this but you do not have the slightest respect for the Philippine courts.' We won PHP 700 million in that case."
Legal 500, a publication, which rates and recomends lawyers based on their expertise, lists Platon Martinez Floes San Pedro & Leano, Sak's firm, as one of the top litigation firms in Manila.
Unlike the defense lawyers in the impeachment trial of Erap Estrada, Sak is a charming mild-mannered lawyer. He doesn't have a reputation of being a cheat. And he is not likely to offend people in the event that he has to object to every question of the prosecution team a la Atty. Flaminiano in the Estrada impeachment. The only factor that might go against him is that Sak is now in his late sixties or early seventies. I hope he will be able to stand the rigors of this impeachment trial. But I'm sure, he will be able to live up to his reputation, give the President a fair trial, and help the nation uncover the truth.