The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has granted a request of Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo for an extension of the deadline to pay the remaining P7.43 million for the processing of her election counter-protest against former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The Marcos camp had slammed Robredo for her so-called squid tactics in “delaying the case.”
Recently, Marcos, through his lawyer George Erwin Garcia, said Rule 34 of the electoral tribunal 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 tribunal, however, gave no date for Robredo to pay the balance even as it ordered her to justify the extension in writing.
Marcos made the full payment of the P66.02 million for his protest fee on Monday, four days ahead of the July 14 deadline.
In his protest, he assailed the May 2016 election results in 39,221 clustered precincts—36,465 of which he paid for the conduct of manual count and judicial revision and the remaining 2,756 for the annulment of the election results.
Based on Commission on Elections data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of 132,446 precincts.
The Supreme Court recently ordered the preservation of the “automated election equipment and records such as Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), Consolidation and Canvass System (CCS) units, Secure Digital (SD) cards [main and back-up]and other data storage devices in all of the ninety two thousand five hundred nine (92,509) clustered precincts used in the May 2016 elections, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from the tribunal.”
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes, accused her of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning VCMs and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of Vice President.
During a preliminary conference, the electoral tribunal approved the recount of votes in three provinces as requested by Marcos.
In these provinces–Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo–Robredo beat Marcos.
Robredo’s counter-protest fee is P15.4 million for a recount of results in 8,042 clustered precincts composed of 31,278 established precincts.
“It is only reasonable that we wait for the results of the recount because what if the recount won’t be finished anymore since the case will have to be dismissed? Besides, if Mr. Marcos runs for senator [in 2019], then his electoral protest will be null and void. These are the consequences, that’s why we are convinced that Mr. Marcos is in for a tough grind here,” according to Romulo Macalintal, a lawyer for Robredo.
A motion to intervene had been filed by Robredo’s fellow The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (Towns) awardees, who want to help Robredo pay her counter-protest thru a fund-raiser, PISO Para sa Laban ni Leni.
The motion is a test case because at least three laws prohibit Robredo from receiving donation in the course of her official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated or any transaction that may be affected by the Office of the Vice President.
These laws are the anti-graft law, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Presidential Decree 46.
So far, Robredo’s supporters have raised at least P400,000.
Robredo’s initial deposit of P8 million was her personal money and aid from Vicente Hao Chin, Pablito Chua and Rafael Bundoc, who are relatives of her late husband Jesse Robredo, former Interior secretary and a 2000 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Good Governance.
The Vice President paid her initial deposit of P8 million last May 2.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI