MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and her rival, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, to observe the sub judice rule in the ongoing vice presidential electoral protest.
The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), issued the resolution on Tuesday, February 13. Rappler obtained a copy of the document on Thursday, February 22.
“Further, considering that the revision process is about to commence, the Tribunal directs both protestant and protestee to observe the sub judice rule,” said the PET.
The sub judice rule prohibits parties in a case and their lawyers from making comments and disclosures concerning ongoing judicial proceedings to avoid preempting the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.
“Fair and accurate reporting of what actually took place in open court are excluded from its coverage,” explained Marcos’ lawyer and spokesperson Vic Rodriguez.
Robredo’s legal counsel Bernadette Sardillo said they will fully abide by the PET’s latest order.
The PET issued the sub judice rule reminder a week after both the Marcos and Robredo camps publicly traded barbs over the supposed delay in the electoral protest. (READ: Marcos, Robredo pull media stunts but get no closer to a recount)
Marcos dared Robredo to withdraw “all and any pending motions” before the PET so the ballot recount could finally begin. The Robredo camp initially dismissed Marcos’ challenge, saying they had no pending motions, but lead counsel Romulo Macalintal eventually agreed to take it on.
The Marcos camp produced a “joint manifestation” signed by Marcos himself, while the Robredo camp produced a “joint motion” signed by Macalintal. Both camps refused to sign the other’s document.
Days later, the Vice President’s camp formally filed a motion before the PET withdrawing any motions that could potentially delay the electoral protest.
But in the same February 13 resolution, the PET ruled the Robredo camp has not filed any motions that could or would delay the ballot recount process.
“Based on the records of this case, the Tribunal finds that there are no such pending motions from protestee,” said the PET.
Sardillo acknowledged this.
“On the other hand, the PET has also noted that Mr Marcos did not file a similar motion and has in fact asked him to inform the tribunal if he intends to file a similar motion to withdraw all pending motions,” she said.
Robredo defeated Marcos by just 263,473 votes during the 2016 elections. The latter claimed he was cheated and filed an electoral protest.
Recently, Marcos has been accusing the PET of alleged “unfair treatment” towards him.
He also claims Robredo supposedly colluded with the Commission on Elections and vote-counting machines manufacturer Smartmatic, pointing to “questionable” square marks on the ballot images.
Those square marks, however, are merely a new feature of the ballot introduced in 2016. (READ: [OPINION] What Bongbong Marcos should understand about ballot images)
The ballot recount for the vice presidential electoral protest is set to begin on March 19.
Read a full copy of the PET’s February 13 resolution below: