Bersamin wanted no part in voting on Leni-Marcos case

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    CHIEF Justice Lucas Bersamin yesterday said he had wanted to delay voting on the election protest filed by losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday but was prevailed upon by the en banc.

    Bersamin said he did not want to participate in the voting because he does not want to be suspected of “cooked or orchestrated the result.”

    The justices will go on break on October 21 and resume their en banc session on November 5. By then, Bersamin will be out of the Supreme Court as he is reaching the retirement age of 70 on October 18.

    The tribunal has twice deferred deliberations on the report on the revision, recount, and re-appreciation of ballots from three pilot provinces — Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo.

    Bersamin made the disclosure a day after the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, authorized the release of a report on the revision and recount of ballots to the Robredo and Marcos camps.

    “I wanted to delay the vote, because I did not like to take part in it. Because I did not like the public like the media speculating that I cooked or orchestrated the result, but I always told you, hindi pwedeng magluto dito sa (there can be no manipulation here in) Supreme Court dahil ang daming involved (because many are involved),” Bersamin told reporters in an ambush interview at the launch of his coffee table book, “Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin: His Enduring Legacy,” at the SC Session Hall.

    “But the en banc prevailed on me to take the vote yesterday and after some deliberation, we were able to conclude that it is time indeed for the parties to be asked to comment on the report generated by Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa who was the justice in charge,” he added.

    Caguioa submitted the report last month.

    Bersamin said the tribunal’s decision asking both camps to comment on the report is “part of due process,” adding that whoever feels prejudiced by any conclusion in the report should be given the chance to comment or challenge the conclusions.

    Asked about pronouncements from both parties claiming victory with the tribunal’s decision, Bersamin said it is their opinion and not of the tribunal.

    “It has not come from the Court. It’s up to them whatever they say. They may distort even what we have decided so it’s not up to us, unless somebody else comes here and complains that there was a falsification of the truth. We just leave them at that,” he said.

    Bersamin also said he could not disclose the findings in the report.

    “It’s a long report and it may not be fair on my part to sum up since I would inevitably omit some or few details which the parties may find to be very critical or crucial,” he said.

    Aside from giving copies of the report to both parties, the tribunal also required both parties to submit their memoranda on “various issues relating to the jurisdiction and other matters” in connection with a third cause of action in Marcos’ electoral protest.

    The third cause of action in Marcos’ protest is the annulment of election results for the vice presidential position in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan, on the ground of terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters, and pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts in the areas.

    The tribunal has given both parties 20 days to file their comment to the committee report and memoranda to the third cause of action.

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