MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday urged the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to junk defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos’ motion for the court to reconsider its ruling junking his election protest.
“Marcos needs to concede and accept his defeat in grace,” Robredo said in her comment filed through her election lawyers led by Romulo Macalintal.
“The prospect of defeat is a reality that all political candidates who stand for election must learn to accept—for as the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos was quoted to have said, ‘nobody is impervious to misfortune.’ The pain of loss dissipates, through the grace with which defeat is accepted,” it added.
The PET, in February this year, unanimously junked Marcos’ election protest, saying he failed to specify and prove allegations of fraud.
It also cited Marcos’ failure to show substantial recovery after the initial recount in the 3 pilot provinces showed Robredo's slim lead of 263,000 even increased further by 15,000 votes.
Under Rule 65 of the PET Rules, a protest may be dismissed “without further consideration of the other provinces” if the protestant will most probably fail to make out his case after the initial recount involving 3 provinces.
Marcos filed his motion for reconsideration in May this year, arguing that the PET should not have resolved his election protest based on technicalities and that Rule 65 should not have been applied since his third cause of action for the annullment of election results in the Mindanao provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao is separate from the initial recount.
Macalintal dismissed Marcos’ arguments as “rehashed.”
“The contents of the motion for reconsideration of Mr. Marcos are mere rehash or repetition of the same arguments that he raised before. Since this is just a repetition of the same arguments, then we look forward to the resolution of the decision of the PET that the case be dismissed again for utter lack of merit,” Macalintal told reporters shortly after filing the comment.
“Sana last pleading na ito namin at matapos na itong kasong ito at maharap natin lahat ng problema natin,” he added.
In her comment, Robredo stressed the applicability of Rule 65, to which the PET itself referred in its previous orders.
“Clearly, under Rule 65 of the 2010 Rules, protestant Marcos has the burden to show that based on his designated pilot provinces, he will able to make out his case. Simply put, based on the result of the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots, protestant Marcos must not only be able to show substantial recovery but also a probability that he will be able to overcome the margin of protestee Robredo,” it said.
Marcos had insisted that his third cause of action is separate and that there’s a need to compare the signatures on the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL) with those in the Voter’s Registration Record (VRR) to prove his claim of alleged massive presence of pre-shaded ballots and substituted voting in the 3 Mindanao provinces.
But for Macalintal, this would amount to changing the rules in the middle of the game.
“Yung ini-insist niya lagi na 'yung pilot precincts daw ay dapat iba sa kanyang third cause of action, 'yung annulment of results of other areas, sinasabi namin na hindi pu-pwede 'yun. Otherwise, binabago natin 'yung rules ng PET in the middle of the game. Para bang gusto niyang mabago ang mga rules para lang siya ay mapaburan,” he said.
“Ang sa amin, it was just a legal blunder on his part, malaking pagkakamali niya kung sakali, kung bakit niya pinili 'yung tatlong probinsya — Iloilo, Negros Oriental at Camarines Sur. Noong makita niyang nagkamali siya, aba’y pahingi pa po ng tatlong probinsya, gusto ko po magkaroon ng annullment. Hindi na pwede 'yun. Sabi ng ating PET, hanggang tatlong probinsya ka lamang,” he explained.
In her comment, Robredo blamed Marcos for choosing the 3 pilot provinces.
“The choice of pilot provinces was made by protestant Marcos himself. It was a personal choice. Nobody dictated upon him to choose them,” she said.
Robredo further pointed out that annulling election results, as the Commission on Elections warned, should only be done under the strictest standards and procedures of law, to give importance to thousands of votes cast during the elections.
One particular requirement, she said, that Marcos failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence is that Robredo, as protestee, should be the one responsible for the acts complained of.
Going through the accounts of some of Marcos’ witnesses, Robredo argued, none of them mentioned her involvement in the supposed violence, intimidation and threats supposedly employed by different groups.
Explaining this aspect, Macalintal told reporters that even in Marcos’ protest, he did not allege that Robredo was behind these fraudulent acts.
“Very elementary is the rule that a party cannot prove that which is not alleged in an election protest. Ang isang partido ay hindi maaaring magpatunay ng isang bagay na hindi niya isinaad sa kanyang reklamo o sa kanyang protesta,” he said.
Robredo added, the Comelec has ruled that no special elections were held in the 3 Mindanao provinces in connection with the 2016 polls.
Special elections are held only in cases where there are failure of elections due to fraud, terrorism and other analogous cases.
The PET earlier said that although failure of elections is different from Marcos’ plea for annulment of elections, both actions are based on the same grounds.
The PET interpreted, in favor of Robredo, the fact that there was no failure of elections in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao and that no petition for failure of elections was in fact filed in Basilan as proof that none of Marcos’ claims of irregularities took place.
It even said Marcos made sweeping allegations of wrongdoing and submitted incomplete and incorrect data.
Robredo also accused Marcos of “misunderstanding” the PET ruling, saying the PET did not say his election protest was insufficient in form and substance but that the tribunal took pains to hear every argument even if it “could have been dismissed” under Rule 21 of the PET Rules.
For “utter lack of merit,” Robredo asked the PET to deny Marcos’ motion for reconsideration.
Macalintal could not offer a timetable as to when Marcos’ motion for reconsideration will be resolved by the high court but said this should not affect the upcoming elections.
“Wala naman siguro itong epekto sa forthcoming filing of the certificates of candidacy. Dalawa lang naman sila — Mr. Marcos and Ms. Robredo — ang involved. As to what positions they’re going to run, di natin alam. As to whether or not this case will affect their running, still we don’t know,” he said.
Macalintal said Robredo has not consulted him about her political plans for 2022.
The vice president has said she is open to running for the presidency but has not made up her mind.
Marcos, meanwhile, is "definitely running" for office in 2022, according to his lawyer.