Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s request for deployment of three hearing officers for his poll protest against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo is “improper,” a lawyer said on Tuesday.
Romulo Macalintal made the statement in connection with Marcos’ motion asking the Supreme Court (SC) to designate three hearing officers consistent with the “summary nature and preferential status of election protest cases.”
Macalintal said the motion is premature since the SC, serving as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, is yet to hold a preliminary conference on Marcos’ protest.
“Without the preliminary conference, the motion to have three hearing officers is practically intended to condition the minds of the people, if not those of the members of the PET, of the issues Marcos seems to dictate upon the tribunal. We are not even sure whether the three causes of action raised by Marcos in his protest would be sustained by the PET,” he added in a statement.
Macalintal said it would be impractical to have three hearing officers to hear the three causes of action since there is only one lead lawyer for the protestant and the protestee and thus, the lead lawyer has to be present in every stage of the hearing and cannot be in three places at the same time.
“As such, it is improper for three hearing officers to resolve the said issues separately,” he added.
Robredo beat Marcos by 263,473 votes for the vice presidency in the May 2016 polls.
Marcos is contesting the results in 92,509 clustered precincts.
Robredo, on the other hand, filed a counter protest questioning the results in 31,278 clustered precincts.