VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s counter-protest is in danger of being junked by the Supreme Court because of her failure to pay protest fees.
This was the contention of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who asked the court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Monday to dismiss the counter-protest in connection with the May 2016 vice-presidential race.
In a six-page omnibus motion, the former senator stressed that his election protest should be the only one allowed to proceed following his initial payment of the election protest fee.
Robredo failed to comply with the tribunal’s order last March 21 for payment of the first installment required of both parties. The last day of payment was last Monday. Only Marcos complied.
“[T]he protestee/counter-protestant (Robredo) did not pay the required initial installment of the cash deposit in the amount of eight million pesos (P8 million) by 17 April 2017, she opted instead to file a manifestation with urgent ex-parte omnibus motion (1) for clarification; and (2) reconsideration of the resolution dated 21 March 2017.
“In view of the failure on the part of the protestee/counter-protestant to pay the first tranche of the cash deposit for her counter-protest within the deadline set by this honorable tribunal, protestant Marcos is now constrained to move for the immediate dismissal of the counter-protest in accordance with Rule 34 of the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal,” the motion stated.
Robredo’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, said they filed a motion on Wednesday explaining a request for a clarification as to the timing of the payment for the counter-protest, “that it could be done if and when Mr. Marcos has already established his case as protestant.”
“We will wait for the PET to resolve the matter,” Macalintal said in a statement. “If the PET decides we should pay now, we will make the necessary payment.”
Rule 34 provides that “[i]f a party fails to make the cash deposits or additional deposits herein required within the prescribed time limit, the tribunal may dismiss the protest or counter-protest, or take such action as it may deem equitable under the circumstances.”
The Marcos camp quoted the cases of Perla Garcia, et al. vs the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Rep. Harry Angping; and Bienvenido William D. LLoren vs Commission on Elections and Rogelio Pua Jr., where the high court upheld the dismissal of the protests for failure to make the required cash deposit.
Marcos accused Robredo’s camp of delaying the recount .
“The filing of [Robredo’s] manifestation with urgent ex-parte omnibus motion cannot excuse Robredo from the payment of the required cash deposit since the same is obviously dilatory,” the Marcos motion stated.
“Robredo’s intention to further delay the proceedings in this case is evident from the arguments raised in her latest submission. Protestant Marcos finds it quite ironic that Robredo would ask for the deferment of the payment of her cash deposit even though she had already expressed her conformity and willingness to pay the same in her [manifestation],” it added.
Marcos, through his lawyer George Erwin Garcia, asked the PET for the setting of the preliminary conference on the protest, as mandated by Rule 29 of the PET Rules.
The PET had ruled that the case deposit for Marcos amounted to P66,223,000, or P500 for each of the 132,446 voting precincts.
In his protest, Marcos assailed the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts. He wants a recount in 36,465 precincts, and the annulment of results in the remaining 2,756. Based on Commission on Elections data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of 132,446 precincts.
Marcos lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes.