MANILA - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo urged the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to follow its own rules on Monday, a day ahead of a possible ruling on the election protest filed by 2016 vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.
In a manifestation filed with the PET Monday morning, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the PET should resolve the election protest in accordance with Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, which allows the tribunal to dismiss the election protest if, after initial determination of the grounds for the protest involving 3 pilot provinces which best exemplified the fraud or irregularities, it finds that the protestant will most likely fail to make out a case.
Marcos chose the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
The Robredo camp is standing by its claim that it gained 15,000 votes after the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots, although the PET had earlier dismissed the figures as speculative.
Following Rule 65, they insisted the entire election protest should be dismissed after Marcos supposedly failed to show substantial recovery, similar to the procedure in the Senate and House of Representatives electoral tribunals.
Macalintal insisted the rule is mandatory, despite the language of the rule saying “the protest may forthwith be dismissed…”
“Depende na ‘yan sa interpretation ng Supreme Court but I’m sure that the Supreme Court will be guided by previous or prior jurisprudence where the said word has been interpreted as mandatory,” he told the media at press conference.
To disregard Rule 65, he said, would be a violation of Robredo’s right to due process and would be discriminatory against the vice president.
“[P]rotestee Robredo still has the highest respect to the Honorable Tribunal that the Rules will not be changed in the middle of the games, so to speak,” Robredo’s lawyers said in their manifestation.
Last week, they asked the PET to release the official tally.
They said they were constrained to file the motion and manifestation amidst speculations about the real result of the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots and of the justices’ possible votes.
Robredo’s lawyers also accused the Marcos camp of belatedly raising another cause of action involving technical examination of voters’ signatures and thumbmarks in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao, which are outside the 3 pilot provinces.
The Marcos camp, on other hand, called on Robredo to observe and respect PET Rules.
Marcos’ lawyer, Atty. George Garcia, said Rule 3 of PET Rules call for a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every election contest.
The SC justices, sitting as the PET, are expected to meet again on Tuesday to discuss the issue. It is Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin’s and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s last en banc session before they retire on October 18 and October 26 respectively.
SC spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka says the SC is expected to take a writing break on October 21 and will resume sessions on November 4.
Meanwhile, Marcos supporters have started to gather outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
Robredo supporters are also expected to converge Monday night for an overnight vigil.
A portion of Padre Faura has been closed to traffic with heavy police presence.