MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr on Tuesday, February 6, signed a "joint manifestation" – which he had earlier challenged his rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, to sign – withdrawing all pending motions so the Supreme Court can proceed with the recount of ballots in their electoral protest case.
Aside from withdrawing any "motions and incidents that may unduly delay or hamper the revision proceedings," the document said, both parties "further commit to refrain from filing any frivolous motion that will unwarrantedly interrupt, defer, postpone, suspend, delay, prolong and/or impede the conduct of the proceedings in this case."
Marcos lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes in the May 2016 vice presidential polls.
“The Joint Manifestation is being filed by the parties as part of their commitment to assist this Honorable Tribunal in accomplishing its mandate to achieve a just and expeditious determination of this election contest to settle once and for all the issue of legitimacy, determination and proclamation of the true winner and lawful choice of the electorate for the position of Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines," read Marcos' draft.
Earlier on Tuesday, Robredo's camp said it would take on Marcos' challenge, which it previously dismissed.
The Vice President's lead counsel, Romulo Macalintal, said: "We accept the challenge of Mr Marcos and his lawyer to sign a joint motion to withdraw any and all pending motions and incidents at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) which may cause the delay of the recount of ballots from the pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental."
In early February, Marcos' lawyer Vic Rodriguez announced to media the former senator had instructed them to draft a joint motion to withdraw all pending motions. It would be filed before the SC, which sits as the electoral tribunal.
Macalintal initially said the challenge was a bluff because Robredo's camp has no pending motion before the PET.
But on Tuesday, Macalintal said the Vice President's camp would sign the joint motion, proposing that it be done on Wednesday, February 7.
"I am inviting Mr Marcos and his lawyer tomorrow at 9 am to sign a joint motion," he said. "This is to confirm that we are not causing the delay in the recount of ballots. It is Mr Marcos' raising of baseless allegations and irrelevant issues that is causing the delay in the recount."
Marcos earlier claimed that electoral fraud can be proven through "questionable" marks on some ballot images. His camp accused the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and technology provider Smartmatic of conspiring to make Robredo win.
But Emil Marañon III, an election lawyer and among those who have been consulted by the Robredo camp, pointed out in a Rappler opinion piece that the "shocking" evidence that Marcos presented were merely new features on the 2016 ballot.
Marcos had chosen 3 pilot provinces – Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental, and Iloilo –where the initial recount of ballots will be held. It has yet to be announced when the recount will begin. – Rappler.com