The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is contemplating to file a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) after the Supreme Court (SC) denied the Vice President’s motion to dismiss an electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against her.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the lead counsel of the Vice President, on Friday noted that filing an MR is in order because Marcos’ allegations–massive vote-buying, pre-shading of ballots, script change in the transparency server that affected results, malfunctioning vote counting machines, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots and “abnormally high undervotes for the position of Vice President–do not support any ground to open the ballot boxes.
The SC also sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which decides on poll protests involving presidential and vice presidential contests.
“A motion for reconsideration, that is our remedy. I am still thinking of filing because we just received this yesterday, and I have not yet talked to the entire legal team of Vice President Robredo. What we are saying is, the rules itself on the [electoral tribunal]state that if the allegations are not very, very specific, if [they are]too general, if [they are]too broad, [they are]not the kind of protest that we will let to proceed. Otherwise, it is as if you are allowing the party to fish for evidence,” Macalintal said in a television interview.
He was referring to Rule 17 C.D. of the electoral tribunal that reads, “An election protest should state a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts.”
“Fishing for evidence is not allowed in our laws. We are asking the other camp, where is your evidence? By allowing Marcos’ protest to proceed, the Supreme Court is saying, let’s wait for the evidence,” Macalintal said.
Robredo beat Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race by 263,473 votes.
“There’s no danger in filing a Motion for Reconsideration,” Macalintal said.
If Robredo files the MR and the electoral tribunal denies the motion, a pre-trial conference will commence where both the Robredo and Marcos camps will be asked to present their respective protests.
Retrieval of the ballot boxes will also happen during the pre-trial conference, a process that could last up to two years, according to Macalintal.
Macalintal clarified that their camp is not afraid of any recount because Robredo is the true winner of the 2016 vice presidential contest.
“We are not afraid of this poll protest case. We are confident that after all these processes, Vice President Robredo will still emerge as the winner,” he said.
“We don’t have problems because we always trust the Supreme Court and the members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. We believe in their integrity, in their competence, and in their fairness in deciding this case,” Macalintal added.
Meanwhile, Robredo has warned of corruption in the government if Marcos gets appointed as the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Robredo also on Friday noted that while President Rodrigo Duterte has the last word on naming Marcos to the Cabinet, accommodating the former senator will bring risks than benefits.
“It is always the President’s privilege, who to appoint in his Cabinet, but my concern here is that the Marcoses have not paid for what they did to the country. There have been several decisions already asking them to pay whatever they got from the people, but all of these judgments are not satisfied yet,” the Vice President, a lawyer, said.
Robredo was referring to the estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, of which $4 billion was already recovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
The Marcoses accumulated the $10 billion during the martial law regime of the former senator’s father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Just this week, the Supreme Court also affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s January 2014 ruling ordering the forfeiture of Marcos Jr.’s mother and former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ jewelry collection dubbed as “Malacañang Collection” worth $110,055 to $153,089.
The “Malacañang Collection” was seized by authorities in the aftermath of the February 1986 EDSA “people power” revolt.
“The DILG is a strategic office because you will be given the opportunity to engage all local government units [LGUs], all local chief executives, all officials of LGUs. It is an opportunity to gain ground,” the Vice President, whose late husband Jesse Robredo also served as DILG secretary from June 2010 until his death in a plane crash in August 2012.
Robredo said that her office is always in danger because Marcos is after it.
“It will always be under threat, not really from people, but it’s just Bongbong Marcos and his supporters. However, I can’t allow that to disturb me from what I do in the office,” she added.
Also on Friday, the Vice President visited Barangay Poblacion in San Francisco, Surigao, as well as Caraga General Hospital, to inspect areas affected by an earthquake that rocked the province a week ago.
On romance, Robredo said, “I’ve been linked to so many people. One of them is even my gay friend in Naga [City] and our pictures were even made into a collage and made it look that he was my boyfriend. But I just ignore these things. People who know the relationship I’ve had with my husband won’t believe these. I don’t have any plans of seeing anyone ever.
“I’m old. I don’t think I’ll ever find a man like my husband. I’ve been blessed with 25 years to be in a very good marriage, so there is no need to see anyone, especially now that I am swamped with work, I’m living a very public life, I’m with people 24/7. There’s no chance for that,” Robredo, who is 51 years old, added.
LLANESCA T. PANTI