By Kristine Joy V. Patag, Reporter

SC sets preliminary conference for Marcos-Robredo electoral case

Posted on April 27, 2017

THE SUPREME Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has set June 21 for the preliminary conference on the electoral protest filed by defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. and the counter-protest of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo.

SC Spokesperson Theodore O. Te said in statement yesterday that the PET “granted protestant’s (Mr. Marcos) motion for the setting of the preliminary conference and has set this case for preliminary conference on June 21, 2017 at 2:00 in the afternoon.”

The tribunal reached the decision during an en banc session on April 25, but was disclosed to reporters only yesterday.

The high court also noted that following Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules, it will resolve both the electoral protest of Mr. Marcos and counter-protest of Ms. Robredo.

Mr. Te added, “Considering, however, that Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules mandate that the rules are to be liberally construed to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the tribunal, the PET has deemed it proper to conduct the preliminary conference of both protests jointly and that the issues raised during the preliminary conference should include issues of the protest and the counter-protest.”

Both camps of Mr. Marcos and Ms. Robredo have also been ordered to submit their preliminary conference briefs to the Tribunal, and furnish a copy for the other party, at least five days before June 21.

The brief should contain the following: The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof; the simplification of the issues; the limitation of the number of witnesses; and the most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, elections returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protest.

In the same en banc session, the Tribunal also junked Ms. Robredo’s motion for reconsideration asking for an extension of payment of filing fees. She was ordered by the PET to pay P8 million as first tranche of the filing fee, “within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from notice of Resolution.”

To recall, the PET issued a resolution dated March 21, ordering the camp of Ms. Robredo to pay P15,439,000. She was directed to pay P8 million, for the first tranche, on April 14, while the remaining P7.439 million is due on July 14.

Romulo B. Macalintal, lead counsel of Ms. Robredo, issued a statement yesterday in reaction to the snipe thrown by Vic Rodriguez, counsel of Mr. Marcos, calling the remark as anti-poor.

In a radio interview, Mr. Rodriguez said that they will watch closely where Ms. Robredo’s camp will get the money to pay the P8 million as the vice-president’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) indicates she cannot produce that amount.

“We do not deny that (Ms.) Robredo has no sufficient personal funds to pay said cash deposit and that the properties stated in her SALN would not even suffice to pay the same. But this does not give (Mr.) Marcos the right to practically insult or even doubt (Ms.) Robredo’s financial capacity,” Mr. Macalintal said in a statement.

He assured that Ms. Robredo will have the money from legal sources for their camp to defend her election victory.

“We welcome the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s decision and want the case resolved at the soonest to remove any questions on the legitimacy of the victory of VP Leni,” Mr. Macalintal said.

“VP Leni and her team are fully ready for the preliminary conference and we are confident that the protest of Bongbong Marcos will be dismissed,” he added.

Mr. Marcos, for his part, was ordered to pay P66,223,000 for the court to resolve his protest. On April 17, Mr. Marcos arrived at the SC merely 15 minutes shy from closing of courts to pay the initial P36 million. The son of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. said his supporters pooled money for the payment.

Mr. Marcos lost the vice-presidential race by a slim margin of about 260,000 votes to Ms. Robredo after leading by almost a million votes early in the election count.