MANILA—A day after the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) required parties to the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to comment on the results of the initial recount, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin disclosed that he wanted to delay the vote.
“I wanted to delay the vote, because I did not like to take part in it. Because I did not like the public like the media speculating that I cooked or orchestrated the result. But I always told you, hindi puwedeng magluto dito sa Supreme Court dahil andaming involved,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“But the banc prevailed on me to take the vote yesterday. And after some deliberations we were able to conclude that it is time indeed for the parties to be asked to comment on the report generated by Justice Caguioa who was the justice in charge.”
Marcos filed the election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo in 2016 claiming massive fraud in the vice presidential polls.
After more than 3 years, the SC sitting as the PET was expected to vote on whether to push through with Marcos’ protest or junk it outright following the completion of initial recount in 3 pilot provinces Marcos had chosen for the initial determination of the grounds of his protest.
But instead of resolving the issue, SC magistrates voted 11-2 to first release to parties a copy of the result of the initial recount and require them to file their comment.
Marcos and Robredo were also ordered to file their memorandum on Marcos’ third cause of action seeking to annul elections in 3 provinces in Mindanao -- Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
“It was clear that, the majority, clear majority of the court wanted the action to be taken on the report. And before we could take any action, we had solicit the comments of the parties. That’s only fair, part of due process 'yan. So we came up with that resolution to require the parties to comment,” Bersamin explained the reason for the action taken by the PET.
Two justices -- Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa -- dissented. According to SC sources, they wanted the protest dismissed on the ground that there was no substantial recovery on the part of Marcos based on the outcome of the initial recount.
Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules allows the tribunal to junk the election protest if, after initial determination involving 3 provinces, the protestant failed to make a case.
But according to Bersamin, due process was the primary consideration for the action taken by the PET.
“Well that’s part of due process. There is a report and it’s about something that happened, there maybe some conclusions that were made there. So whoever feels he or she was prejudiced by any conclusions in that report, should be given the time of day to comment or attack or challenge the conclusions which only fair,” he explained.
The parties, however, will only be asked to comment on the findings and not the recommendation submitted by Caguioa, the justice in charge of the election contest.
Bersamin, however, declined to disclose details about the results of the initial recount.
“I’m not at liberty (to disclose). It’s a long report and it may not be fair on my part to sum it up kasi I would inevitably omit some or few details which the parties may find to be very critical or crucial or important and that is the hardest thing to be done by a chief justice to be perceived as misrepresenting so I’d rather avoid,” he said.
He also could not say if a new justice in charge will be assigned to the case now that Caguioa voted with the minority, leaving the matter to the remaining members of the high court.
Bersamin’s last day will on Thursday, October 17. He retires on Friday, after having served for 10 years.
Asked about claims of victory by both the Marcos and Robredo camp, Bersamin says anyone is free to make their claims.
“It’s their opinion. It has not come from the Court. You know we cannot, after we release our result...it’s up to them whatever they say. They may distort even what we have decided so it’s not up to us, unless somebody else comes here and complains that there was a falsification of the truth. We just leave them at that,” he said.
“Nakita niyo ba may naluto wala naman?,” he added.