Robredo wins first round in Marcos’s poll protest
Vice President Leni Robredo has won the first round of her legal battle with former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. after the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), jettisoned his attempt to void her proclamation.
In a 34-page resolution, the PET also directed the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to submit a list of witnesses for the third course of action of his electoral protest five days after officially receiving its Aug. 29 order.
It said the list should be limited to three witnesses per clustered precinct in the three pilot provinces the electoral body had identified.
This means Marcos will have to produce some 8,100 witnesses from about 2,700 clustered precincts from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental provinces.
In a statement, Victor Rodriguez, Marcos’ lawyer, said they would comply with the directive of the electoral tribunal.
“We are glad that the tribunal share in our desire to expedite the disposition of this case the soonest possible time in interest of all the Filipino people especially those whose votes were not counted,” Rodriguez said.
Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s counsel, expressed confidence the tribunal’s decision would eventually lead to the dismissal of Marcos’ poll protest, saying the PET’s action practically affirmed the credibility of the May 2016 automated balloting.
“The effect of this is that the integrity and credibility of the automated election system have been upheld by the Supreme Court,” Macalintal told a press briefing.
In tossing out his first course of action, the poll tribunal did not give weight to Marcos’ argument that Robredo’s proclamation should be annulled as the conduct of the elections violated several provisions of Republic Act No. 8436, or the Automated Election System Law.
Citing the need to expedite the resolution of the case, it said hearing the issues the former senator had raised would be “meaningless and pointless.”
“(E)ven if (Marcos) succeeds in proving his first cause of action, this will not mean that he has already won the position of Vice President as this can only be determined by a manual recount of all votes in all precincts,” the PET ruled.
It said any action regarding the matter would be “an exercise in futility and would have no practical effect,” and that it could do away with discussing it “for judicial economy and for the prompt disposition of this case.”
“To be sure, the tribunal cannot allow this exercise to even begin especially if it were to consider the amount of resources and time it will demand from the tribunal,” it stressed.
Besides, it said junking the first part of his electoral protest would not adversely affect the second course of action, which pertains to the manual recount of votes, and the third course of action, which focused on the presentation of evidence and witnesses.
“Thus, the tribunal is left with no option but to already dismiss the first course of action as indeed this will not prevent the protest from continuing because (Marcos) can still prove his case through the second and third course of action,” the PET added.
Robredo, who ran under the then ruling Liberal Party, narrowly beat Marcos by more than 200,000 votes.
But Marcos, one of President Duterte’s staunch allies, questioned the election results in 132,446 polling precincts, for which the PET demanded P66.2 million in total cash deposit.
On the other hand, the Vice President had listed 31,278 polling precincts in her counterprotest, which required a cash bond of P15.5 million.
Meanwhile, Robredo urged the PET to order Marcos to post a cash bond of P2 billion for his request to let the custody of 92,509 vote counting machines and other voting equipment remain with the Commission on Elections.