SC bars Robredo supporters from helping pay P7-M protest fee

'PISO PARA KAY LENI'. Supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo raise funds to help her in the election case filed against her by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

File photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), rejected the petition of Vice President Leni Robredo's supporters to help pay the remaining fee for the election protest filed against her.

In a statement on Thursday, August 10, the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni group said they were disappointed the High Court disallowed them from helping Robredo in the electoral protest filed against her by defeated vice presidential bet Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  

They are planning to file a motion for reconsideration. 

"We cannot just accept the decision of the PET and ignore the passion with which the public joined this crusade. For this reason, we are availing of the remedies granted by law and will be filing a motion for reconsideration within the period allowed," said the group's lawyer Pingki Bernabe.

"We shall set forth arguments not previously raised and build on points already stated in the petition," he added.

Presidential Decree No. 46 prohibits public officials from receiving gifts or any other valuable thing on any occasion when the gift is given because of an official's position, regardless of whether or not the gift is given for past favors, or if the giver is expecting to receive a favor or better treatment in the future.

The same prohibition against receiving gifts can also be found in Republic Act No. 6713, which specifies that prohibited gifts include those with a value that "is neither nominal nor insignificant."

After beating Marcos by just 263,473 votes during the 2016 polls, Robredo was accused by her opponent of cheating and is now facing an electoral protest. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case

The Vice President was ordered to pay P15 million for the 31,278 established precincts she is contesting in her counter-protest. Robredo already settled the first half of P8 million on May 2.

She was originally due to pay the second installment of the protest fee worth P7.439 million on July 14, but sought an extension, which the PET granted. No new payment date has been announced yet. 

Marcos, meanwhile, was already able to complete the payment for his P66.2-million protest fee.

As of Thursday, the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni movement was already able to raise P6.5 million to help pay for Robredo's remaining balance.  

If their motion for reconsideration is granted by the PET, they will be depositing the money directly to the High Court's account and not to that of Robredo. Should their petition once again be junked, the funds will be donated instead to Robredo's anti-poverty program Angat Buhay.

Robredo camp to raise money on their own

Robredo's legal adviser Barry Gutierrez said they are hoping the motion for reconsideration would be successful. Still, he said the Robredo camp is already preparing to raise the amount themselves.

"We understand that the group plans to ask for reconsideration of the ruling, and we do hope that they are successful. But we are already preparing to raise the amount necessary on our own, even it means having to borrow money as we did for the first payment," said Gutierrez in a text message.

"VP Leni won clearly, convincingly, and legitimately, and will avail of all legal remedies to defend the mandate she received from our people," he added.

He also thanked the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni movement for their initiative. 

"This was an independent initiative undertaken by a group of supporters, for which we are deeply grateful," said Gutierrez.

"We are even more overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support the petition has received, and we take this as an affirmation that VP Leni's message does indeed resound with Filipinos from all sectors, and from all walks of life," he added. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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