10 days too short to rebut Marcos’ ‘longest election protest’
Defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos is making it hard for the legal team of Vice President Leni Robredo to answer his election fraud allegations after the former senator filed the “longest election protest ever” with more than 20,000 documents in its annexes, said election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
“(It) is the longest election protest ever filed in any election tribunal in the Philippines with the most number of annexes numbering more than 20,000 documents. This is unprecedented in the annals of political cases in our country,” Macalintal said in a statement to the media on Sunday.
With Marcos’ lengthy protest, Macalintal said Robredo’s legal team would have difficulty reviewing thousands of documents and answering the protest within the 10-day period the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) gave them.
“The 10-day period to answer said protest would not be sufficient for Robredo and her lawyers to read and answer such lengthy and voluminous petition and annexes,” he said.
Last June, Marcos, in a 1,000-page petition, urged the Supreme Court, which is sitting as PET, to declare him as the duly elected and rightful vice president of the Philippines.
The former Camarines Sur lawmaker won by a slim margin of 263,473 votes over the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Macalintal said this could be the reason why the case was not included in the tribunal agenda of the SC last week.
The high court will instead take up the case in an en banc session on Tuesday.
“For sure, it will take more time for the 15-member PET to study each and every page of the 1,000-page protest and the 20,000 annexes before it could take appropriate action thereon. More so if we consider the fact that based on newspaper reports, Marcos’ protest involves his calling for failure of election in several provinces where he protested all the clustered precincts in such areas,” Macalintal said.
The veteran lawyer reiterated that Marcos cannot attribute vote-buying and terrorism to Robredo because he had “no iota of proof that she consented or aided in the commission of such alleged electoral fraud.”
He said it was an “erroneous stand” because “when the results of election in all the clustered precincts in one area are protested or assailed, it is already tantamount to calling for a failure of election as held by the SC and the Commission on Elections in various cases.”
“And failure of election is not within the jurisdiction of the PET since it is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Comelec En Banc under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166. Likewise, ‘failure of election’ means ‘no one is elected,’ hence, there could be no failure of election since the President down to the last councilors were duly elected and had already assumed their respective offices,” he added. JE/rga