MANILA - Raising P8 million in a bid to defend her electoral victory against former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos is proving to be a difficult challenge for Vice President Leni Robredo, her legal counsel said Friday.
"Malaki ang problema ni Vice President Robredo... Tama si Mr. Marcos, walang pera ang kanyang kalaban. Pero talagang sisikapin, talagang pipilitin para maipagtanggol ang kanyang karapatan," Robredo's lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, told radio DZMM.
(Vice President Robredo has a big problem. Mr. Marcos is right, his opponent has no money. But we will really strive to defend her right.)
Marcos lost to Robredo in the 2016 vice-presidential election by roughly 200,000 votes. He filed a protest assailing the election results in over 39,000 clustered precincts.
As ordered by the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET), Marcos last week paid P36 million, the first installment of a fee for recounting contested ballots.
Robredo meanwhile was ordered to deposit P8 million on Tuesday for her petition to reverse PET’s earlier ruling finding Marcos’ protest sufficient in form and substance.
On July 14, Robredo would have to pay a second tranche of P7.44 million while Marcos settles another installment of P30 million.
The Vice President will solicit help from relatives and friends to raise the fees. As a government official, she cannot accept donations, unlike Marcos who is no longer a lawmaker, Macalintal said.
"Naghahanda naman si Vice President na mangalap ng pondo para mapunuan namin iyung P8 million. Ngayon nga, makikipag-usap siya sa ilan niyang mga kamag-anak at kaibigan, paano nga mabubuo namin iyung P8 million na iyun," said Robredo's lawyer.
Macalintal also expressed frustration over the Marcos camp's vow to keep a close eye on how Robredo will draw funds.
"Sa tanang buhay ko, sa pagpa-practice ko ng election law, ngayon lang ako nakarinig ng ganoon na ang isang protestant, minamaliit na hindi mo kayang magbayad," he said.
"Iyun ang problema kasi ng protesta dito sa ating bansa. Kapag wala kang pero at ika'y nanalo at ikaw ay mahirap, ang hirap ipagtanggol ang iyong pagkapanalo 'pag mayaman ang kalaban mo."
(In all the years I practiced election law, this is the first time I have heard a protestant belittling the capacity of his opponent to pay. That's the problem of protests in our country. If you won and you're poor, it is difficult to defend your victory if you rival is rich.)