Supreme Court withdraws show cause order vs Calida in VP protest

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has withdrawn its show cause order against Solicitor General Jose Calida, a Rappler source confirmed.

The PET also withdrew its similar show cause order against Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas, the same source said. The SC Public Information Office (PIO) has yet to issue a statement on the show cause orders, which were earlier issued over a potential contempt proceeding in the vice presidential electoral protest.

Calida and Canlas were earlier ordered to show cause or explain why they should not be cited in contempt. The show cause orders were issued against the two in light of the motions filed to inhibit Association Justice Marvic Leonen from the high-stakes electoral case.

According to a letter he sent to the justices, case lead Leonen would rather forgive. He wrote that "forgiveness is often the more decent consequence of another’s misunderstanding.”

The PET unanimously denied the motions to inhibit filed by both Calida and defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos, who had cited the supposed bias of Leonen on account of his previous stints in the Benigno S. Aquino III administration and his scathing dissent in the Marcos burial case.

Calida's legal standing to file a motion, when the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is not party to the case, has been questioned. Calida campaigned for Marcos in the 2016 elections.

Both Calida's and Marcos' motions cited reports from Canlas on leaks from the Supreme Court about a reflection, or a paper written at the onset of the case, which showed Leonen's inclination to dismiss the protest.

Vice President Leni Robredo has filed a motion asking the SC to investigate a possible collusion between Marcos and the Solicitor General. Calida had sniffed around for Leonen's Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) for the purpose of filing a quo warranto petition to oust the justice, but the en banc unanimously denied the request.

The PET is deliberating on the factual and legal issues of annulment of elections or failure of elections in 3 Mindanao provinces, where Marcos alleged fraud.

For the OSG, if there is indeed fraud, the PET could annul the elections in those provinces and pick the winner from the remaining votes cast. That option would result in a Marcos victory.  

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), for its part, said that it junked all petitions for failure of elections in those provinces, but clarified that a failure of elections is different from an annulment of elections. Annulment is a PET power, while declaring a failure of elections is a Comelec power.

Comelec had cautioned the PET to exercise its annulment powers with care.

In a pleading filed before the PET on Tuesday, November 24, Robredo reiterated Rule 65 of the PET which said that the protest can be dismissed if there is no substantial discovery from the recount of 3 pilot provinces.

With recount in pilot provinces Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur Robredo, even widened her lead by 15,093 votes. –

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.