THE camp of defeated 2016 vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to clarify its decision to dismiss due to lack of merit the electoral protest filed by the former senator against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Lawyer Vic Rodriguez said that while an SC briefer issued late Tuesday afternoon indicated that the PET has “unanimously” dismissed the “entire electoral protest,” the decision covered only Marcos’ first and second cause of action.
“We are not disputing the unanimous decision on the dismissal of the manual recount but the question lingering in our mind is this: Does that include the dismissal of the third cause of action?” Rodriguez said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Despite the outcome of his election protest, Rodriguez said Marcos is definitely running in next year’s election. “He will be definitely running in 2022. I’m confirming that Sen. Marcos will run this coming 2022 elections,” Rodriguez said, adding they will make a formal announcement “soon.”
The Marcos camp had filed three causes of action before the PET: the first alleging that the Automated Election System was compromised, hence its integrity cannot be relied upon to declare a legitimate winner, while the second cause of action called for a recount of the results in the pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Marcos lost the first and second causes of action in 2019. A recount of votes in the three provinces even widened Robredo’s win over him by more than 15,000 votes.
Marcos filed a third cause of action which sought to annul the elections held in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan, where he claimed the polls were tainted with terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters as well as pre-shading of ballots.
He said Robredo stands to lose 497,985 votes in the election results in the three Mindanao provinces.
Rodriguez said that during the hearings of the case by the PET, it was established that the third cause of action was “separate and distinct” and can “proceed independently” of the manual recount and judicial revision.
Rodriguez said their camp is waiting for the hard copy of the decision “to find out… whether the term election protest has been used strictly to refer specifically to the manual recount, or to include even our third cause of action.
Rodriguez said that if the ruling included the third cause, “many questions would arise since the PET has yet to touch the issue.”
“That’s why our point is let’s be cautious and prudent because the updated statement of the Supreme Court was not also helpful because it only mentioned that the entire election protest was dismissed.
CASE IS OVER
And while the Marcos camp remains uncertain if they have totally lost their poll protest, the Robredo camp said the PET decision was very clear that the “entire election protest was dismissed.”
Lawyer Ma. Bernadette Sardillo said: “Based on the dispositive portion that was quoted in the press release of the Supreme Court, it was very clear that the entire election protest filed by Sen. Marcos has been dismissed.”
“The rules are clear that he first needs to prove that there was cheating during the counting of votes in the three provinces before the procedure can continue,” Sardillo said.
Robredo on Tuesday night said that while the protest dragged for five years, victory was worth the long wait.
“Halos limang taon na iyong nakalipas, ngayong araw nanaig iyong katotohanan. (It’s been almost five years and today, truth prevailed),” Robredo said. “Naitaguyod natin iyong tunay na pasya noong 2016 elections (We were able to champion the true decision of the people in the 2016 elections).”
Robredo said her staff can attest to the fact that she never stopped believing that the truth will prevail, confident that she was the duly elected vice president in the 2016 national polls.
The Vice President thanked the Supreme Court for “affirming” her trust in the process.
Rodriguez said Marcos was not surprised with the decision of the SC since they already had hints as early as January this year that they had lost the protest.
He said his client was surprised that the voting was unanimous.
“He had already an inkling as early as last January that the decision would come out yesterday. As early as January 12, we already heard rumors about a draft decision circulating in the Supreme Court. So, we were not surprised at all,” Rodriguez said.
“Ang nagulat lang kami sa (But we were shocked that it was a) unanimous decision, sa unanimous voting, 15-0 on the dismissal of the election protest,” he added.
He did not elaborate on why the former senator was surprised by the unanimous voting of the justices to dismiss his case.
Sardillo said Robredo was also surprised by the unanimous decision of the PET. “We all feel relief and gratitude of course for the justices upholding the rule of law, at the same time, we’re also grateful that the victory of Vice President Robredo was affirmed by the SC so we can now put this behind us,” she said.
She said the victory was sweeter considering that it was the third decision favoring Robredo.
Of the 15-member SC, three were appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III, namely Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
The rest are appointees of President Duterte.
Seven justices fully concurred with the junking of Marcos’ election protest while eight concurred with the results, meaning they agreed with the outcome of the case, but not necessarily with the rationale or doctrine used. – With Wendell Vigilia