THE camp of Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday questioned the Office of the Solicitor General’s alleged collusion with her rival, defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who has a pending electoral protest case against her before the Supreme Court which sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
“Actually his (Solicitor General Jose Calida’s) action of being actively participating in this case when supposedly a protest case is a private suit between the Vice President and Bongbong Marcos, there’s no government agency involved here, so why is he meddling in the Vice President’s case?),” lawyer Emil Marañon, one of Robredo’s legal counsels, said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Marcos and Calida on Monday called for the inhibition of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen from the electoral protest case, demanding a re-raffle of the case to another justice and to resolve all pending matters related to his protest.
In his petition, Marcos accused Leonen, the member-in-charge, of showing bias against him and asked that the poll protest be re-raffled.
Marcos cited Leonen’s dissenting opinion to the burial of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, which he said showed Leonen’s “palpable bias and partiality” against the Marcos family.
After a few hours, the OSG filed its own motion, prompting Marañon to question the OSG’s role in the case, noting that the two motions even have “similarly worded sentences” which he said shows the “apparent collusion” between Marcos and Calida who is supposed to be the government’s legal counsel and not the defeated candidate’s.
“He’s (Calida) coming in as the Tribune of the People supposedly but our question is, why is he rooting for the defeated? The one rejected by the people?” Marañon said. “Why not side with the victor if he is truly the Tribune of the people? Our question is, maybe Solicitor General Calida is the Tribune of Mr. Marcos.”
Marañon and another Robredo lawyer, Bernadette Sardillo, have said Marcos’ petition was just the latest in a series of actions by the Marcos camp to discredit the PET’s recount after the results showed him at the losing end, pointing out that he made a similar attempt to recuse Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa which was dismissed by the PET with a stinging warning that further “unfounded and inappropriate accusation in the future will be dealt with more severely.”
Both Leonen and Caguioa are appointees to the SC of former president Benigno Aquino III, a party-mate of Robredo.
Leonen took over the case from Caguioa last year after the latter dissented from the majority ruling when he called for the dismissal of the case after Marcos’ failure to show substantial recovery in the recount of ballots from the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
After the recount, the PET Tribunal found that Robredo’s lead over Marcos even widened by more than 15,000 votes.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sitting as the PET yesterday reiterated its gag order preventing the Robredo and Marcos camps from discussing the case outside of the court under the sub judice rule.
“The Tribunal again warns the parties in PET Case No. 005 to strictly observe the sub judice rule pursuant to its earlier resolutions,” the PET said.
It added that the recent appearances and statements of the parties and their lawyers in various media outlets made the PET reiterate its warning against violating the sub judice rule.
“These are not the proper venues to litigate their case. The parties, their counsels and their agents are sternly warned that any more violation of this order shall be dealt with more severely,” it added. – With Ashzel Hachero