OVP: PET ruling validates our claims; Marcos: ‘Ponente’ is biased
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has stressed that the full Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) decision on the poll protest lodged by former senator Bongbong Marcos validates its initial claims that the complaint was “baseless and unfounded.”
In a statement, Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said that he believes the full text of the PET decision affirms the legitimacy of her victory over Marcos as well as the fact that the charges brought against the latter were unsubstantiated.
Last February 16, the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the PET, unanimously dismissed the protest filed by Marcos after he lost by a slim margin — over 260,000 votes — as there was no substantial recovery of votes for his side.
“The full decision of the PET, unanimously dismissing the election protest against VP Leni Robredo, decisively and definitively affirms her 2016 victory and her mandate as Vice President,” Gutierrez said.
“The unequivocal declaration in the decision that the protest ‘failed to substantiate’ its ‘sweeping allegations’ of supposed fraud, validates what has been our long-standing position: that the protest was baseless and unfounded from the beginning,” he added.
Gutierrez also emphasized that the PET decision should end all discussions on the matter, thanking PET for their wisdom and fairness.
“This clearly settles this matter once and for all. Once again, we thank the PET for its wisdom, fairness, and resolve in deciding this issue,” he noted.
But according to Marcos, he was not given due process as PET decided to dismiss the case without even hearing his claims for the third cause of action.
After the 2016 presidential elections, Marcos filed a protest claiming that Robredo won only through electoral fraud. The protest contained three causes of action: however, in the second cause of action, Marcos picked three provinces — Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental — to start a recount to prove that he lost votes in the area.
However, last October 2019, the PET announced that Robredo actually gained around 15,000 votes in the provinces questioned by Marcos.
Marcos, son of late dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos, also claimed that Associate Justice Marvic Leonen — the decision’s ponente or author — acted impartially against him.
Likewise, he said Leonen was seeing the case through “yellow lenses” — a reference to the Aquino administration that the magistrate worked for as chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“I read the 92-page decision penned by Justice Leonen and it is unfortunate that he dismissed my election case without even allowing us to present proof about the massive cheating that occurred in Mindanao,” Marcos said, through a message relayed by his lawyer Vic Rodriguez.
“In effect, what was supposed to be a separate, distinct and independent cause of action was rejected because of a plethora of rules. Indeed, it is regrettable that the Justice-in-charge viewed the case with extreme partiality through his yellow lenses,” he added.
After the release of the PET decision, Rodriguez claimed that the dismissal was only for the first two causes of action, and not the third, which was a call to nullify votes from certain Mindanao provinces.
But this was disputed by Robredo herself, citing a subsequent clarification from SC that the whole protest and even her counter-protest were dismissed already. SC then released a separate statement saying that the whole poll protest had been junked.
This is not the first time Marcos has vented his frustrations at Leonen. Marcos and Solicitor General Jose Calida requested in November 2020 that Leonen recuse himself from being the case’s justice-in-charge.
Both petitions were denied unanimously by the SC.
Despite losing the election and the election protest, Marcos still wants the SC to hear his third cause of action.
“The power of PET is plenary. The third cause of action, like annulment, should not pose a problem even in the absence of rules because the will of the electorate is of paramount importance,” he added.
“The existence or nonexistence of procedural rules should not be an obstacle in knowing the true will of the people. Rules are just secondary in nature. What is important is the true will of the electorate,” he said.
TIMELINE: The 4-year Robredo-Marcos poll case
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.