VP electoral protest

Robredo to Marcos in VP case appeal: ‘No one to blame but you’

Lian Buan

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Robredo to Marcos in VP case appeal: ‘No one to blame but you’

ROBREDO CAMP. Vice President Leni Robredo's lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Beng Sardillo file their comment with the Supreme Court seeking to dismiss former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr.'s motion for reconsideration in the electoral protest case against their client.

Legal Team of VP Leni Robredo

‘The only matter left to be done is for protestant Marcos to accept graciously his defeat and move on,’ Vice President Leni Robredo says in her comment to the appeal filed by Bongbong Marcos before the High Court on his junked poll protest

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr “has no one to blame but himself” for the failure of his poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, his 2016 election rival told the Supreme Court on Friday, July 2.

“Marcos has no one to blame but himself for the dismissal of his Election Protest,” Robredo told the Supreme Court in a comment filed on Friday, in response to Marcos’ motion for reconsideration on his junked poll protest.

In her 50-page comment, Robredo pointed out that the pitfalls of the electoral protest were due to the Marcos camp’s shortcomings.

The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) had unanimously dismissed Marcos’ electoral protest, following Rule 65 of PET rules that there must be substantial recovery in the pilot provinces before any other proceedings can take place.

Robredo even widened her lead by 15,093 votes in the recount of votes in Marcos’ chosen pilot provinces of Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur.

“The choice of pilot provinces was made by protestant Marcos himself. It was a personal choice. Nobody dictated upon him to choose them. Now that he was proven wrong, protestant Marcos now wants to change the Rules so he can keep fanning the flames on his unsubstantiated allegations,” Robredo said in the comment prepared by veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

Marcos filed his motion for reconsideration in May, urging the PET to move ahead and investigate ballots in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, alleging widespread fraud there. Marcos wants to annul elections in those provinces.

In a formula proposed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, annulling elections in the Mindanao provinces would remove all votes in those provinces in the overall count, which would result in a Marcos win.

Robredo won over Marcos by only just 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential elections. 

The PET’s unanimous ruling in February, written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, stressed that the tribunal cannot proceed to an investigation in the Mindanao provinces if the recount of votes in the pilot provinces had already failed. To move on to Mindanao “would amount to a fishing expedition,” the PET said, still pursuant to Rule 65 which says that pilot provinces must not be more than three.

In his motion for reconsideration, Marcos insisted that Rule 65 is not applicable because for him and his lawyers, the annulment of elections is an independent action that should not be affected just because he already lost the recount in his first set of pilot provinces.


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Annulment of elections

In her comment, Robredo said that even if the PET were to consider the annulment route, Marcos still failed to satisfy an added requirement.

Citing the 2016 en banc case Abayon vs Daza, Robredo pointed out that Marcos never alleged that she was responsible for the alleged fraud in those Mindanao provinces.

The Abayon vs Daza decision set a high threshold to annul elections, saying: “It is worthy to note that no evidence was presented which will directly point to protestee as the one responsible for the incidents which allegedly happened before and during the elections.”

“Equally noteworthy is that protestant Marcos also failed to include in his Preliminary Conference Brief any evidence which will prove that protestee Robredo was the one directly responsible for the unlawful acts complained of,” said Robredo’s comment.

“Thus, how can protestant Marcos prove a fact that was not alleged in his Election Protest? Protestant Marcos cannot insist on proceeding to the Third Cause of Action when he miserably failed to comply with the requirements laid down in Abayon,” Robredo added.

The annulment of elections is a fairly novel route, with underdeveloped jurisprudence. A fundamental question issue is that there is never 100% certainty which ballot was good, and which was bad, and to void all ballots would disenfranchise voters.

That is why even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) cautioned the PET in the exercise of its annulment power. The Supreme Court sitting as an electoral tribunal is the only one that has such annulment power.

In the Leonen ponencia, the PET also used a formula that shall be used if ever an annulment route is taken. In a formula that would void only a portion of votes, Robredo would have still won even if the elections in those three Mindanao provinces were annulled, said the PET.

“The numbers are clear.  The only matter left to be done is for protestant Marcos to accept graciously his defeat and move on,” said Robredo. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.