VP electoral protest

Robredo to Supreme Court: Probe collusion between Bongbong Marcos and Calida

Lian Buan

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Robredo to Supreme Court: Probe collusion between Bongbong Marcos and Calida

ELECTORAL PROTEST. Vice President Leni Robredo's win in the 2016 elections is challenged by defeated candidate Bongbong Marcos.

Photo by Charlie Villegas / OVP

'It is unfortunate that an esteemed institution such as OSG would resort to gossip mongering,' says the Vice President's motion

Vice President Leni Robredo asked the Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to investigate a possible collusion between Bongbong Marcos and Solicitor General Jose Calida.

“It is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Tribunal to conduct an investigation for possible collusion between Solicitor General Jose Calida, the 19 Assistant Solicitors General, Mr. Jomar Canlas of the Manila Times and protestant Ferdinand Marcos Jr in besmirching the reputation of the member-in-charge,” Robredo’s Omnibus Motion said, signed by her lawyer Romulo Macalintal, and filed before the SC on Wednesday, November 18.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 17, denied Marcos and Calida’s motions to inhibit member-in-charge or case lead Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. The Supreme Court also issued a show cause order to Calida and Canlas to explain why they should not be cited in contempt.

Marcos and Calida filed their motions for inhibition on the same day, only hours apart, containing much of the same arguments and even phrasings.

Both motions also heavily cited Canlas’ reports on leaks from the Supreme Court showing Leonen’s “reflections” at the early stage of a case, where he expressed a leaning toward dismissing the electoral protest.

The Robredo camp pointed out that Canlas’ reports “were perfectly timed to create the situation of seeking the inhibition of the member-in-charge.”

“While denying any collusion, the 2 motions filed by Marcos and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) are eerily similar,” said Robredo’s motion.

“And, Solicitor General Calida has openly, actively and rabidly campaigned for Marcos for Vice President in the May 9 2016 National and Local Elections,” Robredo’s motion added.

The motion said “it is unfortunate that an esteemed institution such as OSG would resort to gossip mongering despite knowing fully well that Canlas’ gossips were not only unsubstantiated, but inadmissible hearsays.”

Calida’s actions

The OSG is not a party to the electoral protest case, and even as statutory counsel of the government, the office had dropped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the earlier threshold issue in order to favor Marcos.

In the motion for inhibition against Leonen, Calida said he was acting as tribune of the people and that the justice being taken off the case would be in the best interest of the State.

Marcos and Calida accused Leonen of bias on account of the justice’s previous stints with the Aquino government and his fiery dissent in the Marcos hero’s burial case.

Marcos and Calida have also accused Leonen of purposefully delaying the case. If it’s overtaken by the 2022 elections, the case would be moot.

But the Robredo camp said the OSG has filed 13 motions for extensions in the case, equivalent to a total of 5 months.

“No less than the OSG contributed to the delay in the resolution of the election protest,” Robredo’s motion said.

The OSG and Comelec have submitted their comments as requested by the PET about issues related to supposed fraud in 3 Mindanao provinces and legalities of an annulment of elections.

For the OSG, the PET could annul the elections in those provinces and pick the winner from the remaining votes cast. That option would result in a Marcos victory.  

Comelec, for its part, said that it junked all petitions for failure of elections in those provinces. Comelec also cautioned the PET to exercise its annulment powers with care.

Robredo has repeatedly said that by virtue of a widened lead in the recount of pilot provinces, the case should have already been dismissed, following Rule 65 of the PET rules. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.