In unanimous vote, Supreme Court junks Marcos protest vs Robredo

The Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) unanimously dismissed the electoral protest filed by defeated candidate Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.

SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed this and said on Tuesday, February 16, that "7 members fully concurred with the dismissal and 8 concurred only with the result."

No other information could be provided by Hosaka, including the main basis of the dismissal, nor why the 8 justices concurred only with the result. Concurring with the result means agreeing with the main outcome, but not necessarily agreeing with the doctrine or rationale.

Rappler's sources, who are privy to the information, earlier said the vote was unanimous during the en banc session on Tuesday, February 16.

According to Rappler's source, the PET dismissed the case because Marcos did not sufficiently justify an annulment of elections in 3 Mindanao provinces.

The Supreme Court's Public Information Office (PIO) issued an amended briefer late Tuesday afternoon, saying the "entire electoral protest" has been dismissed.

The SC PIO issued this after the Marcos camp claimed that the entire case had not been decided yet. (READ: Despite categorical ruling, Marcos insists SC hasn’t junked entire VP protest)

This concludes more than 4 years of litigation of the Supreme Court, marked by controversial attempts to make the lead justices inhibit from the case. The case lead has changed, from Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa to Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

Leonen, whom Marcos had also moved to inhibit, remained case lead until the dismissal on Tuesday. He is facing an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives, endorsed by Marcos' cousin, Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba. 

In October 2019, PET finished the pilot recount of Marcos' 3 chosen provinces, which resulted in Robredo widening her lead even more by 15,093 additional votes.

When the PET finished the recount, Caguioa and retired senior justice Antonio Carpio already voted to dismiss the protest, citing Rule 65 of the PET rules. It says if there was no substantial recovery, the protest may be dismissed.

Caguioa and Carpio lost the vote, allowing the PET to proceed with a new member-in-charge, which was Leonen, who got the case though a raffle.

Since October 2019, the PET had deliberated on Marcos' 3rd cause of action, which is to void votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, alleging fraud.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) told the PET there was no failure of elections in any of those provinces, but conceded that failure of elections is different from annulment of elections. The latter, the Comelec said, was a PET power.

The Comelec told the PET to use this power cautiously as it would risk disenfranchising voters.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, who also moved to inhibit Leonen in a motion very similar to Marcos' and which he filed on the same day, told the PET that if they were to annul the votes in those provinces, the winner shall be declared from the remaining valid votes. A result of this suggestion would be a Marcos win. –

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 or tweet @lianbuan.