Robredo supporters ask Supreme Court approval on contributions to poll case

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SUPPORTERS OF Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo on Wednesday sought anew approval by the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), of their contributions to Ms. Robredo’s counter-electoral protest against former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., her rival in the 2016 vice-presidential contest.

Petitioners and proponents of the Piso Para Kay Leni, led by Museo Pambata founder Cristina Lim-Yuson, filed at the SC a 13-page Motion for Reconsideration asking the Tribunal to allow them help pay the second tranche of Ms. Robredo’s counter-electoral protest fee amounting to P7.4 million.

The petitioners first sought the Tribunal by filing a Petition in Intervention to be allowed to “submit payment for the cash deposit required of the protestee, [Ms. Robredo].” But the PET on July 11 denied that petition.

Counsel Purification S. Bartolome-Bernabe, in a press conference after the filing, said the petitioners have a standing on the case as it is “a matter of transcendental importance.”

The group said it has come to their attention that Ms. Robredos’camp was having difficulty raising the counter-electoral protest fee for the second installment.

“They are fearful that as citizens and voters, they would be deprived of the outcome of the election — the victory of [Ms. Robredo] which was a direct result of their exercise of the constitutional right of suffrage because she could not come up with cash deposit,” the motion reads.

“Hence they started to raise funds for the purpose of helping [Ms. Robredo] to pay the second installment, and more importantly, to protect the votes they cast,” the group added.

Ms. Bernabe said the group wants “to make a direct deposit to the PET,” since Ms. Robredo, an elected official, is barred from accepting donations and gifts under the anti-graft law.

“IF PET grants our petition to intervene, we will deposit it directly to the PET hence it will not go through the OVP. It is also direct citizen’s action, in protection of the right of suffrage,” Ms. Bernabe added.

Meanwhile, the Tribunal has ordered the creation of an exploratory mission/retrieval team that will locate and examine the ballot boxes contested in the electoral and counter-electoral protest of Mr. Marcos and Ms. Robredo.

In a resolution dated Aug. 8 and made public yesterday, the PET designated the following SC employees for the said task: lawyers Mercedes Mostajo and Linuel Alindogan of the Office of the Chief Attorney as leaders; Joy Jemima Reyes and Jeffrey Raymond Atienza of the Cash Collection and Disbursement Division as Special Disbursing Officers; and Joery Gayanan and/or any official/employee to be recommended by the Office of the Administrative Services as Chief Security Officer and/or Assistant Chief Security Officer.

They will receive a monthly compensation of P5,000.

The Tribunal also noted that revision committees will be composed of a coordinator who is a lawyer, a recorder and a representative, each from the protestant and protestee. The PET also ordered the two parties to assign their respective alternative representatives.

A compensation of P1,500 for each revision committee will also be provided by the Tribunal. The coordinator will receive a compensation of P780 while the recorder will be entitled to P480. The remaining P184 will be for their supplies or materials.

The Tribunal also ordered the office of the acting chief administrative officer to post vacancies for the members of the revision committees and accept applications for the staffing complement.

The acting clerk of the Tribunal, meanwhile, will screen the applicants for the position of coordinators of the revision committee.

The case stemmed from an electoral protest filed by Mr. Marcos after losing in 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. — Kristine Joy V. Patag