MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa is no longer the member-in-charge of the high stakes electoral protest filed by Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.
"Justice Caguioa is no longer the member in charge, because he was in the minority, he dissented so I think en banc will raffle the case," retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio told reporters Tuesday night, October 29.
Under SC rules, when the member-in-charge loses in the vote, the case will have to be re-raffled to someone in the majority.
Caguioa and Carpio were the only dissenters in the recent 11-2 resolution of the SC sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) which required Marcos and Robredo to comment on a handful of issues on legal, jurisdictional and logistical concerns should the PET proceed to Marcos' other causes of actions.
For Caguioa and Carpio, the PET should have already dismissed Marcos' protest because initial recount of 3 pilot provinces showed no substantial recovery for him.
Rule 65 of the 2010 PET rules says the tribunal may dismiss the protest altogether if it is convinced that based on the pilot recount, the protestant – or Marcos – "will most probably fail to make out his case."
Caguioa lost the member-in-charge position but he ends that stint on a strong note.
In his strongly-worded 7-page dissenting opinion, Caguioa called the order for Marcos and Robredo comments as an "exercise in futility."
"I raise the question, what else is there to say and comment on? The language and purpose of Rule 65 are clear. The results of the revision and appreciation are likewise clear. Had this case been before any of the electoral tribunals, the protest would have been dismissed," said Caguioa.
Going further, Caguioa slammed the majority for having special treatment for the case.
"What is stopping the majority from applying Rule 65? Why is this Protest being treated as sui generis (a class of its own)?" he said.
Marcos had wanted Caguioa removed as member-in-charge before, and had requested for the justice's inhibition in the entire case, but the en banc had unanimously rejected this September last year.
The results of the pilot recount showed Robredo widened her lead with15,093 additional votes from Marcos' chosen pilot provinces of Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur.
Caguioa said the tribunal cannot "tum a blind eye to the numbers."
"Numbers do not lie. They state things simply as they are. And when the numbers reveal a definite conclusion, the Tribunal would do a disservice to the public and to the nation not to heed the conclusion they provide," said Caguioa.
The majority ruling, a per curiam ruling or of the majority as a whole, defended the resolution by saying it was merely giving due process to both camps.
"It is designed to hear the parties fully on the various legal issues relating to their controversy. It is not a finding for or against the protestant or the protestee," said the 57-page majority resolution.
The Marcos camp had requested the Supreme Court for authority to photocopy results of the initial recount so they can begin to comment on the issues raised by the PET majority.
En banc deliberations resume on November 5. – Rappler.com