MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) postponed the preliminary conference on former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr's election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The preliminary conference, originally set for June 21, was reset to July 11, SC spokesperson Theodore Te announced on Tuesday, June 6.
The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), had given the initial date for the preliminary conference last April 26, around 10 months since Marcos filed the poll protest.
In a statement, Marcos' spokesperson and lawyer Vic Rodriguez said they understand the "urgency to set the oral arguments on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao" but they do not see the need "to further delay an equally important case that likewise involves public interest."
The SC has set the oral arguments on martial law in Mindanao for June 13 to 15, a week ahead of the original date of the Marcos-Robredo preliminary conference.
"Every day of delay benefits the unauthentic occupant of the office discharging fake public service based on [a] pretentious program of governance whose real objective is to oust President Duterte no less," Rodriguez said in a strongly worded statement.
VP understands delay
On Thursday, June 8, Robredo said that, like her rival, she also wants the case resolved sooner, but that she also understood why the High Court had to tackle the anti-martial law petitions first.
“Tayo, naiinip man tayo naiintindihan natin. Pero gaya nga ng sinasabi ko, siguro kung meron dito na pinakamalaki ‘yung interes na matapos na ‘to, kami ‘yon. Kasi hanggang ‘di pa ‘to natatapos, parati siyang mangugulo,” Robredo said in an interview in Pampanga.
(We are also getting impatient, but we understand the reason for the delay now. We also want a speedy resolution as possible because, as long as this is not done, it will always hound us. So to our best interest, we want the protest to be resolved.)
“Pero naiintindihan natin iyong dahilan ngayon, may mga nag-file ng petition sa Congress tungkol sa pag-declare ng martial law, na very urgent. So ito yata 'yung binigyan ng pagkakataon muna ng Korte Supreme para pakinggan,” she added.
(But we understand the reason for the delay this time. Members of Congress filed a petition against the declaration of martial law, which is very urgent. So this is what the Supreme Court prioritized to hear.)
The son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is contesting the votes in 132,446 established precincts. He lost the vice presidential race to Robredo by just 263,473 votes.
Robredo, meanwhile, is contesting the results in 31,278 established precincts.
During the preliminary conference, the issues of the case will be outlined and simplified. (READ: Presidential Electoral Tribunal: What happens to a protest?)
Earlier, Marcos filed a motion for the SC to order the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to decrypt and print the images in the SD cards used in the May 2016 elections to speed up the proceedings.
He also previously asked the SC to assign 3 hearing officers to hear the main issues of his protest.
Both parties are due to pay the 2nd installment of the service fee for the poll protest on July 14, 3 days after the scheduled conference. (READ: SC orders P81-M payment for Marcos protest vs Robredo)