VP electoral protest

Robredo’s SC win ‘vindication’ vs poll fraud allegations in ARMM – Hataman

Mara Cepeda

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Robredo’s SC win ‘vindication’ vs poll fraud allegations in ARMM – Hataman

VINDICATED. Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman poses for his official portrait for the House of Representatives.

Photo courtesy of Hataman's Facebook page

'It was indeed a long, difficult, and arduous legal battle for an election already won,' says Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman

Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman said Vice President Leni Robredo winning the electoral protest she faced is also “vindication” for the now-abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

On Wednesday, February 17, Hataman said the dismissed election case filed by the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr had also placed a “large cloud of doubt” over the results of the last ARMM elections in 2016. 

“Kaisa po kami ni VP Leni sa pagdiriwang ng tagumpay ng sambayanan. At masaya tayo dahil sa huli, vindicated po ang ARMM sa lahat ng alegasyon ng irregularidad sa eleksyon,” said Hataman in a statement on Wednesday, February 17.

(We are one with VP Leni in celebrating this people’s triumph. And we are happy because in the end; this is vindication for the ARMM for all allegations of irregularities in the elections.)

This is also a triumph for the people who went out to vote and elected in 2019 our Vice President, whom others fought to set aside for the sake of their self-interest. It was indeed a long, difficult, and arduous legal battle for an election already won,” the Deputy Speaker added in a mix of English and Filipino.

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Hataman has a personal stake in the VP electoral protest, since Marcos wanted the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to annul the votes in 3 provinces once part of the ARMM: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan. 

In his PET case, Marcos cited supposed evidence of voters’ substitution in the 3 provinces from a separate electoral protest earlier against him filed by former Sulu vice governor Abdusakur Tan. Hataman had beaten Tan in the 2016 gubernatorial race. 

But after over 4 years of litigation, the PET unanimously ruled to junk Marcos’ election case against Robredo. 

The High Court has not released details of the dismissal, but a Rappler source said it was because Marcos had failed to sufficiently justify an annulment of elections in the 3 ARMM provinces.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had also dismissed for mootness Tan’s electoral protest against Hataman in December 2019, since the latter had already been elected into the House of Representatives.

The Bangsamoro law that abolished the ARMM was also passed into law. Comelec said the decision is “now final and executory.”

In both the 2016 and 2019 elections, Hataman ran and won for office under the once-ruling Liberal Party, where Robredo is chairperson.

Despite a categorical and unanimous ruling to dismiss his case, Marcos’ camp insisted the PET ruled only on one of part of his election case. 

This promoted the SC to later issue an amended press briefer reiterating that the “entire protest” was dismissed. – Rappler.com

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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.