SC warns Robredo, Marcos camps: Stop talking about the case

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) warned the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and Bongbong Marcos against issuing public statements on the electoral dispute involving them and which the justices are expected to decide on next week.

"Gusto ko po ulit ipa-alala sa mga parties at sa kanilang mga abugado na galangin po sana nila ang utos ng korte na huwag mag kumento o magsalita sa media tungkol sa kaso ayon sa 'sub judice rule'" SC spokeperson Brian Keith Hosaka told reporters in a message on Wednesday, October 9.

(I want to remind parties and their lawyers to respect the order of the Court not to comment or talk to media about the case pursuant to sub judice rule.)

The SC once fined Marcos and Robredo P50,000 each for statements made to the media on the matter. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: The Marcos vs Robredo electoral protest)

Hosaka was reacting to a radio interview by Robredo's lead counsel Romulo Macalintal Wednesday morning, where the lawyer cited reports that the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), would proceed with the protest lodged by Marcos.

"May mga bali-balita na mukhang kahit walang substantial [evidence], itutuloy raw. Parang hindi ata tama iyan dahil sa ilalim ng rules, 'pag wala kang nakita sa 3 probinsya, idi-dismiss iyan," Macalintal said over radio DZMM.

(There are reports that even though there is no substantial evidence, they would proceed. That does not seem right because under the rules, if you don't see anything in the 3 provinces, it should be dismissed.)

Marcos' lawyer Vic Rodriguez chose not to discuss the merits of the case. "Like everyone else, we also patiently waited for the PET decision that was moved again to the 15th. Until then we have no statement to make in deference to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal and the honorable justices," he said.

What's at stake in Round 2

The PET is now resolving Marcos' 2nd course of action, or the initial recount of his chosen 3 pilot provinces. He had previously asked the Court to declare the 2016 elections marred by fraud, but the SC upheld the integrity of the political exercise.

Under Rule 65 of PET rules, the Tribunal should use the initial recount as basis of whether or not to dismiss Marcos' protest.

Member-in-charge Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa has already submitted his report to the other members of the en banc, which contains an assessment of the initial recount based on the examination of hearing commissioners on the ground.

Citing reports, Macalintal said the en banc "looks like" it would deny Caguioa's report and proceed to further recount.

Macalintal earlier said that the en banc should always uphold the member-in-charge's report because it is based on the examination of those who are on the ground – as compared to the justices who did not personally examine ballots. 

Marcos' 3rd cause of action is to nullify the votes from 3 provinces in the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Marcos had in fact wanted the PET to simultaneously open ballots in those provinces while the pilot provinces recount was ongoing.

In a previous resolution, the PET denied Marcos' request for an immediate ARMM ballot investigation, citing "the explicit mandate of Rule 65" that the pilot provinces shall be resolved first.

"Bakit ang pinakamataas pang korte ang mukhang ayaw, hindi gagamit ng nasabing rules. Malaking kahihiyan iyan," said Macalintal.

(Why is the highest court  the one which looks like it won't follow the rules. That's a huge embarrassment.)

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin earlier denied that there has been any definite voting on Caguioa's report.

Caguioa's report has been on agenda in the en banc for 3 times already since September. It will be tackled again on October 15. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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