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Marcos presses PET on poll protest vs Robredo

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MANILA — The camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to act on his Election Protest in the midst of a “well-funded and concerted” destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.


In a 25-page Comment/Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Vice President Ma. Leonor Rodredo on the Tribunal’s resolution finding his Election Protest to be sufficient in form and substance, Marcos, through his lawyer George Edwin Garcia, asked the PET to proceed with his case by setting it for preliminary conference and ordering the retrieval of ballot boxes so his case can finally move forward.


Garcia said it has been nine months since Marcos filed his protest and the tribunal has yet to schedule the preliminary conference. In those nine months, he pointed out destabilization efforts against the present government have been continuously waged.


“In those nine months, several plots on destabilizing the government have surfaced which are contrary to public interest. There is clearly a well-funded concerted effort to undermine the Duterte administration. Just recently, Robredo’s video message on the alleged extra-judicial killings caused quite a stir amongst our patriotic countrymen,” Garcia said in a statement.


Marcos earlier said he decided to file the electoral protest due to the series of frauds, anomalies and irregularities that marred the May 9 elections and that such activities made sure he would lose to Robredo, the vice presidential candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party.


Robredo won the 2016 vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes.


He said the tribunal should not tolerate the duplicity of Robredo who has been insisting the she won the vice presidential race but has been opposing every move to prevent the truth from coming out.


Garcia said, “Robredo cannot have it both ways. She cannot keep claiming that she won the elections fair and square and yet, behind everyone’s back, she keeps finding ways to stop the truth from coming out. The evidence of Marcos is probably the same evidence that Robredo has by now. If this is the case, one cannot help but wonder why she does not want the proceeding to move forward.”


In arguing against Robredo’s claim that his protest should be dismissed because Marcos failed to allege the sufficiency of his evidence on election fraud, Garcia said the issue of sufficiency in form and substance had been settled by the Tribunal not just once but twice.


“The sufficiency of the form, substance and content of the election protest filed by protestant Marcos was judiciously AFFIRMED by this Honorable Tribunal in two (2) instances already. First, when it resolved to issue the Summons (dated 12 July 2016) against protestee Robredo, and second, when it denied the special and affirmative defenses of Robredo as contained in the Resolution promulgated on 24 January 2017,” he noted.


He said the ruling on sufficiency in form and substance has become final because Robredo did not move for a motion for reconsideration on the July 12, 2016 resolution of the Tribunal in which it made a categorical declaration that Marcos’ Election Protest is sufficient in form and substance.


“It is now too late for protestee Robredo to question this finding because she did not move for the reconsideration of the pronouncement of Honorable Tribunal’s relevant to the sufficiency of this election protest. Hence, this finding is now FINAL,” he stated.


Since the sufficiency in form and substance had already been settled twice, Garcia said public interest dictates that the Tribunal should now set the case for preliminary conference to give way to the reception of evidence, the re-opening of the ballot boxes and the manual recount, judicial revision, technical examination and forensic investigation of the paper ballots and / or the ballot images and other paraphernalia used in the elections.


“The term of an elective office is short. There is the contestants’ personal stake which generates feuds and discords. Above all is the public interest. A title to public elective office must not be left long under a cloud. The efficiency of public administration should not be impaired (by delays),” Garcia said.


Ultimately the issue in Marcos’ Election Protest is quite simple, Garcia said, and it is the search for truth on the true will of the people.


“The issue here is simple: do we want the truth to come out or not? More than nine months have already gone by and all protestee Robredo has done is to file one dilatory motion after another. If protestee Robredo has nothing to hide, then she should do everything in her power to encourage – rather than hinder ¾ this election protest to move forward. The millions of voters who trooped to the polls 9 months ago deserve no less. They want the truth to come out. The sooner the better,” he said.


Last Feb. 16, the PET has found sufficient grounds to proceed with the election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo.


The Tribunal affirms its jurisdiction over the instant Protest, which is sufficient in form and substance. The protestee's [Robredo] prayer to dismiss the Protest for lack of jurisdiction and for being insufficient in form and substance is denied," PET said in an eight-page resolution.


”However, while the Tribunal finds the Protest sufficient in form and substance, it must be emphasized that, as to the veracity of the protestant’s allegations, nothing yet has been proved. The Protest is only sufficient for the Tribunal to proceed and give the protestant the opportunity to prove his case in accordance with the 2010 PET Rules,” it added.


The PET also said the election protest is sufficient in form and substance.


“The protest contained narrations of ultimate facts on the alleged irregularities and anomalies in the contested clustered precincts, which the protestant needs to prove in due time," the PET said.


Contrary to Robredo’s argument, the PET said they have the jurisdiction to act on the electoral protest as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.


“Section IV, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Rule 13 of the 2010 PET Rules provides that the Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President and Vice President. The phrase “election, election, returns, and qualifications” refers to all matters affecting the validity of the contestee’s title, which includes questions on the validity, authenticity and correctness of the Certificates of Canvass,’ the PET said.


At the same time, it clarified that while they found the protest sufficient in form and substance, the veracity of Marcos' allegations against Robredo are yet to be proven.

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