MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr asked the Supreme Court (SC) to junk the counter-protest of Vice President Leni Robredo, citing her failure to pay a fee in connection with his electoral protest.
In an omnibus motion before the High Court on Thursday, April 20, the Marcos camp said Robredo’s case should be dismissed since Robredo had failed to settle the first installment of the fee required by the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
It cited Rule 34 of the 2010 PET rules, which states, “If a party fails to make the cash deposits or additional deposits herein required within the prescribed time limit, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest or counter-protest, or take such action as it may deem equitable under the circumstances.”
The PET earlier ordered Marcos and Robredo to settle a fee of P66 million and P15 million, respectively, for the recount of ballots for the electoral protest. The sum was based on the number of precincts contested by both parties in their protests.
Marcos was supposed to pay an initial fee of P36 million, while Robredo was to pay P8 million, on Monday, April 17.
Marcos personally went to the SC on Monday to make the payment. Robredo, for her part, filed a manifestation on April 12, arguing that she should pay the amount only after Marcos’ payment and after an initial batch of ballots has been opened to prove the sufficiency of the protest.
Marcos’ lawyers called the other camp’s move a “dilatory” tactic.
“There being no issue as to the cash deposit required to be paid by the protestee/counter-protestant, there is clearly no basis for Robredo to ask this Honorable Tribunal to hold in abeyance the payment of the cash deposit for her counter-protest,” the motion read.
Marcos’ spokesperson, Vic Rodriguez, said the protest procedure will be faster if the counter-protest is dismissed.
“The only thing left for the Tribunal to do is to hear and decide on the case to be presented by Marcos and no one else. Furthermore, it will exclude them from filing the usual dilatory motions they have been doing,” said Rodriguez.
Marcos’ camp also urged the PET to proceed with the preliminary conference.
The preliminary conference is where the issues of a case are simplified and the number of witnesses are set, among other agreements. The proceedings of the case are set in motion when the court issues a preliminary conference order.
On January 26, Marcos asked the PET to set the preliminary conference for his protest that was filed 9 months ago.
Only after a preliminary conference can the initial opening of ballots from 3 identified provinces be conducted, said Rodriguez.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Robredo’s election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, stressed that they will wait for the PET’s resolution on the issues they had raised in their motion.
“We will wait for the PET to resolve the matter. If the PET decides we should pay now, we will make the necessary payment,” said Macalintal. – Rappler.com