Tribunal gives way to Marcos protest
Former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has secured a critical legal victory in his attempt to unseat Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he has accused of fraud in last year’s elections.
In a resolution dated Jan. 24, the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), said that the complaint of Marcos was sufficient in form and substance and was “beyond dispute,” paving the way for a formal hearing.
The eight-page resolution “emphasized that, as to the veracity of the protestant’s allegations, nothing had yet been proved.”
“The protest is only sufficient for the tribunal to proceed and give the protestant the opportunity to prove his case in accordance with the 2010 PET rules,” according to the resolution, a copy of which was released to the media by the Marcos camp on Thursday.
“We are hoping that with this resolution, there will be an end to all these delays and we can finally move forward. There is a need to ferret out the truth as to what really transpired during the vice presidential race last May,” said Marcos’ lawyer Victor Rodriguez in a statement. “We just want the truth to come out. It’s that simple.”
In upholding Marcos’ complaint, the poll tribunal dismissed Robredo’s argument that it had no jurisdiction over the matter since the former senator had questioned the authenticity of the certificates of canvass (COCs).
Robredo’s lawyers said the issue should have been raised by the namesake son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos through a preproclamation case in Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, as spelled out in Republic Act No. 9369, or the Election Automation Law.
But the PET said Robredo erred in claiming that the tribunal did not have the authority to hear Marcos’ complaint, arguing that Section 4, Article VII, of the 1987 Constitution stated that the tribunal “shall be the sole judge of all elections contests relating to the election, returns and disqualifications of the President or Vice President of the Philippines.”
“The phrase ‘election, returns and qualifications’ refers to all matters affecting the validity of the contestee’s title, which includes questions on the validity, authenticity and correctness of the COCs,” it said.
Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s lawyer, dismissed the PET ruling as simply “a procedural matter.”
“It only means that the PET will proceed with the case. It does not in any way reflect the validity or merits of any allegation of fraud or irregularity contesting the proclamation of Vice President Leni Robredo,” Macalintal said in a statement.
Macalintal said the case would still go through the usual tedious and lengthy process of revision and recount of the ballots.
“The ballot boxes and their contents would be retrieved from various provinces to be brought to the PET for the recount,” he said.
Macalintal said the purpose of assailing the substance of Marcos’ protest was to verify its compliance with the strict requirements of the rules as applied by the Supreme Court in various election protests.