VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday described as a clear indicator of despair the recent court maneuvering of defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. seeking the removal of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen as ponente in the latter’s pending electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
In a counter-manifestation filed with the PET, Robredo said the latest move by Marcos only showed his desperation after he failed to support with evidence his claim of fraud in the 2016 national elections.
“He has been defeated twice. First, during the May 9, 2016 elections when the Filipino people rejected him. Second, during the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots where he failed to show any substantial recovery. Now, faced with these defeats and the looming May 9, 2022 local and national elections, protestant Marcos is desperate. He is desperate to show some semblance of credibility that he was cheated out of an office,” Robredo said.
Robredo said that if the court was to follow Marcos’ logic in seeking the inhibition of Leonen from the case, this would “result to an absurdity if not inhibition of most, if not all the justices.”
“Now to follow the logic of protestant Marcos, the members of the Honorable Tribunal who were appointed by President Duterte should also inhibit from this election protest. The differences between President Duterte and protestee Robredo is public knowledge,” she said, adding that Duterte on several occasions has admitted to being indebted to the Marcoses for helping fund his presidential campaign in 2016.
Of the current 14-member SC, which convenes as the PET when electoral protests over presidential and vice presidential elections are involved, only Leonen and Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Estela Perlas Bernabe are appointee of Robredo ally and former president Benigno Aquino III.
Peralta was appointed to the SC as an associate justice during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo but it was Duterte who named him chief justice last year following the retirement of Lucas Bersamin.
Arroyo and Duterte are political allies.
Peralta penned the decision allowing the burial of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“Thus, should protestee Robredo now assume bias on the part of Associate Justices Gesmundo, Hernando, Carandang, Lazaro-Javier, Inting, Zalameda, Lopez, De Los Santos, Gaerlan and Rosario? Are the members of the High Tribunal who have been appointed by President Duterte now biased in favor of protestant Marcos?” Robredo asked.
“Can we also impute the same bias against Chief Justice Peralta who was the ponente in the same resolution which allowed the burial of the remains of Ferdinand Marcos or Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe, who concurred in the said resolution?” she added.
At the same time, Robredo reminded Marcos that in his previous bid to inhibit Caguioa from the electoral case, the Supreme Court, in junking his plea, has already sternly warned him to first provide evidence of bias and partiality that transcends fiction when he makes a similar move in the future.
Robredo said the ponente only recommends but the entire Tribunal acts collectively.
Leonen took over the case from Caguioa last September 2019 after the latter dissented from the majority ruling when he called for the dismissal of the case after Marcos failed to show substantial recovery in the recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental where he claimed fraud marred the conduct of the 2016 polls.
After the recount in the said provinces, the PET said Robredo’s lead over Marcos even widened by more than 15,000 votes.
Lastly, Robredo said that like in the inhibition bid against Caguioa, Marcos also relied heavily on an article in another newspaper whose writer has been previously warned by the SC for hurling unfounded and baseless accusations against the justices.
“Thus, the delay in the resolution of this election protest can only be ascribed to the steadfast refusal of protestant Marcos to accept the plain and simple truth – he lost, not once but twice,” Robredo stressed.