VP electoral protest

Marcos claims SC set ‘very bad precedent’ in junking VP protest

Mara Cepeda
Marcos claims SC set ‘very bad precedent’ in junking VP protest

Ex-senator Bongbong Marcos files a motion asking Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit from the VP protest case on November 9, 2020.

File photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

Ex-senator Bongbong Marcos slams the SC for dismissing his VP protest case 'without affording us due process'

Defeated candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr said the Supreme Court (SC) did him wrong by dismissing his electoral case against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a statement on Tuesday, April 20, Marcos took issue with the refusal of the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to fully investigate his claims of widespread electoral fraud in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao during the 2016 elections.

The PET, which recently released a full copy of its ruling, had dismissed the case because Marcos did not sufficiently justify an annulment of elections in the 3 Mindanao provinces – the 3rd and final cause of action in his protest. 

But for Marcos, the tribunal should have junked his 3rd cause of action from day one if it was going to end up dismissing the case without hearing all the evidence. 

“Instead they made us pay P66 million for the protest… made us wait for almost 5 years… made us believe that  the annulment was a separatedistinct and independent cause of action – only to decide the case without affording us due process?” asked Marcos. 

“This is a very bad precedent because in the future, no one in their right mind would dare question the results of an election. It is an expensive and time consuming exercise,” added the only son and namesake of the late ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos argued the power of the PET is “plenary” and his plea to annul the votes should not have posed a problem even in the absence of rules “because the will of the electorate is of paramount importance.”

“The PET should do everything in its power to ascertain who really won as Vice President. The truth should not be limited to the existence or non existence of the Rules on Annulment because at the end of the day, it will be the people themselves who will be deprived of ascertaining who the real victor in the 2016 elections were,” he said.

But what Marcos glossed over was that the PET also argued that even if the elections in the 3 Mindanao provinces were annulled as he wanted, Robredo would still have won. 

Still, Marcos’ statement is an acknowledgement of the justices’ decision to dismiss the case in its entirety. 

Back in February, Marcos’ camp had insisted the entire case had not been decided yet – contrary to the categorical announcement of the High Court.  

Robredo beat Marcos by just 263,473 votes in the 2016 polls, prompting the latter to allege cheating and to file an election case against her.

But after over 4 years of litigation, the PET ultimately ruled to junk the entire case against Robredo.

Unlike Marcos, the Vice President’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez thanked the tribunal on Tuesday for their “wisdom, fairness, and resolve” in deciding on the case.

“The full decision of the PET, unanimously dismissing the election protest against VP Leni Robredo, decisively and definitively affirms her 2016 victory and her mandate as Vice President,” said Gutierrez in a statement.

Despite losing his case, Marcos said he would “continue to fight.”

“I owe this to the more than 14 million loyalists who voted for me.  I owe this to our youth who will be casting their ballots in 2022. At the end of the day, the true will of the electorate must prevail,” said Marcos.

It is unclear for now if he would appeal the PET’s ruling. Asked by Rappler if they are considering filing a motion for reconsideration, Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said they are “deeply studying and weighing both the legal and factual basis cited in the PET decision.”

Marcos vs Leonen

On Tuesday, Marcos also zeroed in on SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the ponente of the PET ruling and the officer-in-charge of the VP protest.

Marcos reiterated his accusations of Leonen being allegedly sympathetic to his rival Robredo, who is the chair of the once-ruling Liberal Party known for its trademark yellow campaign color. 

“In effect, what was supposed to be a separate, distinct, and independent cause of action was rejected because of a plethora of rules. Indeed, it is regrettable that the justice-in-charge viewed the case with extreme partiality through his yellow lenses,” said Marcos. 

Marcos had tried but failed to force Leonen to inhibit from the VP protest case in November 2020. 

Roughly a month later, Marcos’ cousin and Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba endorsed an impeachment complaint that was filed against Leonen by a group claiming to push for good government.

Leonen’s impeachment complaint is currently pending in the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.