MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo is more worried about the legal fees than the strength of the election protest that defeated candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr filed against her.
"I am worried about the legal fees because it will not be the same as during the canvassing when it was pro-bono," Robredo told reporters in Filipino during a press briefing on Wednesday, August 3.
The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), ordered Robredo's camp to file their response to the case within 10 days of receipt of the summons.
The Vice President said they have yet to receive a formal notice of the SC resolution, which was issued last July 12 but released to the media only on Tuesday, August 2. (READ: Robredo: 'Senator Marcos knows he lost the elections')
Even before the SC resolution came out, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal already said 10 days is not enough to answer Marcos' protest, which has 1,000 pages plus more than 20,000 documents in its annexes. Macalintal represented Robredo in the canvassing.
But reiterating that the former senator's protest against her victory is baseless, Robredo said on Wednesday: "Hindi naman kami nag-aalala sa pag-eexplain ng sarili kasi wala naman kaming tinatago."
(We are not worried about explaining ourselves because we are not hiding anything.)
Robredo also pointed out that she wants the case out of the way as soon as possible, since she would rather focus on her job as vice president and as the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
The Marcos camp, meanwhile, called on the Vice President not to use "delaying tactics."
"If the respondent remains consistent to her word that there's no cheating then she should instruct her lawyer not to [resort] to any delaying tactics," Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez told Rappler in a phone interview.
Rodriguez also said they will welcome it if the Vice President does not file her response to the case, as this would "further expedite the whole proceedings."
'No problem' with fees
In a statement issued Wednesday, Macalintal said he would be willing to represent Robredo again pro-bono.
"Sabi ko naman kay VP, no problem sa attorney's fees. With or without fees, nakahanda kaming ipagtanggol ang mga botong ipinagkatiwala sa kanya ng taong bayan," he said.
(As I told the VP, no problem with attorney's fees. With or without fees, we are ready to defend the votes entrusted to her by the Filipino people.)
"Nakahanda akong maglingkod sa kapwa ko abugado na hindi pinag-uusapan ang attorney's fees," Macalintal added.
(I am ready to serve my fellow lawyer without discussing attorney's fees.)
Before joining politics in 2013 as representative of the 3rd District of Camarines Sur, the Vice President was a lawyer for the poor.
In the vice presidential race last May, Robredo got 14,418,817 votes during the official canvassing, while Marcos received 14,155,344 – a difference of just 263,473 votes.
The former senator filed the election protest against Robredo on the eve of her oath-taking, seeking a recount of votes in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and 5 highly urbanized cities.
Marcos also wants the nullification of votes in the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur, where he claims there was massive cheating. – Rappler.com