Marcos camp wants clarification on poll protest dismissal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2021 09:40 AM | Updated as of Feb 17 2021 12:45 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA - The camp of defeated vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is waiting for an actual copy of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal's decision to find out if the entire election protest was dismissed or only its plea for a manual recount, a lawyer said Wednesday.

The Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, unanimously dismissed the "entire electoral protest" for lack of merit. Vice President Leni Robredo's counter-protest was also dismissed.

However, lawyer Vic Rodriguez said their camp is being cautious and prudent, as the strict legal meaning of the "election protest" pertains only "manual recount and judicial revision." 

He noted that they still had 2 causes of action pending before the tribunal: the manual recount and judicial revision and the annulment of election results in 3 provinces in Mindanao. 

Their first cause of action questioning the authenticity of the 2016 elections was dismissed in August 2017.

"The question that is lingering on our mind, and I guess to the mind of equally intelligent reporters like you as well, does that include the dismissal of our third cause of action," he told ANC's Headstart, referring to the annulment of election results.

Asked if the third cause of action is now moot and academic, Rodriguez said: "No it is not."

"It has been established during the numerous hearings and decision and deliberation of the court: the third cause of action is a separate, distinct and can proceed independently from the manual recount and judicial revision," he said.

Rodriguez said setting aside these votes from Mindanao would have given Marcos the lead of about 45,000 votes. 

Lawyer Ma. Bernadette Sardillo, one of Robredo's counsels, said it was "very clear" that the entire election protest was dismissed. The Robredo camp has yet to receive a copy of the Supreme Court decision, she added.

"Based on the dispositive portion that was quoted in the press release of Supreme Court it’s very clear that the entire election protest filed by former Sen. Bongbong Marcos has been dismissed," she told Headstart in a separate interview.

"Of course the former senator has remedies available to him under the rules and under the law and he can avail them."

Sardillo said the high court has dismissed two of three causes of action from the Marcos camp. 

The former senator had failed to recover votes in 3 pilot provinces that he chose in his second cause of action and resulted in an additional 15,000 votes for Robredo, according to Sardillo.

"Klaro naman po ang rules na kailangan muna niyang mapatunayan na nagkaroon ng dayaan doon sa 3 probinsiyang napili niya para magpatuloy ang protesta," she said.

(The rules are clear that he has to prove there was cheating in those 3 provinces he chose so the protest could continue.)

The Robredo camp was "surprised" that the high court had unanimously decided to dismiss the case, Sardillo said.

"We all feel relief and gratitude of course for the justices upholding the rule of law, at the same time we’re grateful of course that the victory of Vice President Robredo has been affirmed by the Supreme Court so we can now put this behind us," she said.

"The confirmation of her victory did not just come once, when she was proclaimed during the 2016 elections, twice by the results of the recount when her votes increased by 15,000. And now for the third time, it’s being confirmed by the Supreme Court when the election protest is dismissed."

Watch more on iWantTFC

RULE 65 OF THE TRIBUNAL

The PET's Rule 65 allows a protest to be dismissed “without further consideration of the other provinces” if the protestant will most probably fail to make his case after the initial recount involving 3 provinces.

Rodriguez said their camp is "proceeding with utmost prudence," but he insists that Rule 65 "applies only and exclusively to manual recount and judicial revision."

"Yung aming third cause of action, 'yung annulment of election results, ang applicable rule sa 2010 Rules of Procedure ng PET ay Rule 73," he said.

(On our third cause of action, the annulment of election results, the applicable rule in PET's 2010 Rules of Procedure is Rule 73.)

This rule states that the Revised Rules of Court, the decisions of the Supreme Court, and the decisions of the Electoral Tribunal shall be applicable "by analogy or in suppletory character and effect in so far as they maybe applicable and are not inconsistent with these Rules and with the decisions, resolutions and orders of the Tribunal."

However, Sardillo said Rule 65 must apply to Marcos' case because it has been lodged before the PET and the rule applies to all cases here.

"Rule 65 applies to the election protest they submitted to the jurisdiction. Itong Rule 65 di naman po ginagamit sa PET lang, sa ibang protesta rin pending before other tribunals," she said.

(Rule 65 applies to the election protest they submitted to the jurisdiction. This Rule 65 is not just used by the PET but also in other protests pending before other tribunals.)

Rodriguez said getting these would have been easy as there had been earlier findings by the Commission on Elections, particularly in the case filed by former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan against House deputy speaker Mujiv Hataman. 

He said Comelec’s findings in this case was "conclusive" but in a report submitted to the PET in November 2020, the poll body said it was never resolved on its merits, but was dismissed because the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law led to the expiration of the position of governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

'WE MADE A SOLID CASE THAT VP POST WAS STOLEN'

Watch more on iWantTFC

Rodriguez said he was no longer interested in a manual recount and judicial review because even if this pushed through, "it's impossible" for them to finish this in about 1 year and 4 months, when the vice president's term will end.

He said their camp is not afraid whatever the ultimate verdict of the PET may be as they have made a strong case that there was cheating in the 2016 elections.

"We firmly believe we made made a good, clear, and solid case before the Filipino people that there was a massive cheating last 2016 election for the vice presidency and that the vice president was stolen from the real winner," he said.

He said former Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista's statement that the 2016 elections was the cleanest and its count was accurate was proven wrong when there was a recovery of 15,000 votes.

In October 2019, the PET revealed that Robredo's lead grew by around 15,000 after ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental were recounted. The Marcos camp chose these pilot areas.

"Pagka gumalaw nang 15,000 ang boto at sinasabi mong may recovery ka, masasabi mo pa bang eksakto impunto ang bilangang nangyari? Can you not now suspect or have at least doubt on the final tally that was shown in the Smartmatic-run machines," he said.

(When votes move by about 15,000 and you say there was a recovery, can you still say that the count was exact? Can't you now suspect or have at least doubt on the final tally that was shown in the Smartmatic-run machines?)

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Watch more on iWantTFC