Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s electoral protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will remain valid even if he accepts a Cabinet post in the Duterte administration, legal experts said Friday.
Former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal and lawyer Raul Lambino said this amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s reported plan to appoint Marcos to his Cabinet once the one-year appointment ban on losing candidates in the May 2016 lapses on May 9.
Robredo beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 vice-presidential election. Marcos is contesting his
defeat before the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
“Being appointed to a Cabinet post does not mean that the one who filed an electoral protest is abandoning such protest. Based on the previous rulings of the Supreme Court, a protest is only abandoned when the protestant files a certificate of candidacy for another elective office,” Larrazabal told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
Larrazabal cited three previous PET cases namely: the protest of the late senator Miriam Santiago following the 1992 presidential election won by Fidel Ramos, the protest of Sen. Loren Legarda against senator Noli de Castro’s victory in the 2004 vice-presidential race, and the protest of then senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd against Makati mayor Jejomar Binay’s win in the 2010 vice-presidential contest.
Santiago and Legarda ran for the Senate and won in 1995 and 2007, respectively, invalidating their electoral protests. Roxas did not seek any elective post, however, and pursued his protest, until he ran for president last year.
Lambino argued that a Cabinet appointment won’t affect Marcos’ pending electoral protest because a Cabinet post is not incompatible with the position of the vice president.
“As long as it is a Cabinet position, it will not have any effect on his election protest because even if he eventually wins his protest, the Constitution allows the appointment of a vice president to a Cabinet post. Besides, I am basing this on the fact that the appointment of the vice president to a Cabinet post does not even require the confirmation of the CA (Commission on Appointments), ” Lambino told The Manila Times in a separate phone interview.
Vice Presidents de Castro and Binay were appointed presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers and chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordination Council (HUDCC). Robredo was also appointed by President Duterte as HUDCC chief, but she resigned in December after she was banned from attending Cabinet meetings on President Duterte’s orders.
“What is prohibited by the Constitution is occupying a legislative and an executive post at the same time, as well as occupying a constitutional office post and an executive post at the same time. But in the event that Marcos runs for an elective post [in 2019], then his electoral protest is deemed abandoned,” Lambino said.