MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo is mulling the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the election protest of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to proceed.
“We are not afraid of this case. We are very confident that after all these processes, Vice President Robredo will still emerge as the winner,” Robredo’s lead lawyer Romulo Macalintal said yesterday.
What Robredo finds “scary” is the prospect of Marcos getting appointed as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In an interview with ANC, Robredo said while she agrees that it is the prerogative of the President to appoint whoever he wants in the Cabinet, the Marcoses have yet to return to the country’s coffers the billions of dollars they plundered during their 20-year reign.
“There have been several decisions already asking them to pay back whatever they got from the government, whatever they got from the people, but all these judgments have not been satisfied yet,” Robredo said.
“And now he’s aiming for another Cabinet position and for me that’s scary, in the sense that he will be again given an opportunity to do what they did,” she said.
The Marcoses are known allies of President Duterte, who allowed the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, saying the country must move on from the past.
The Marcoses buried their patriarch at the heroes’ cemetery in November of last year ahead of a final SC ruling on the matter. Critics fear the stage is being set for the return of the Marcoses to power 31 years after they were ousted through a people’s uprising.
The country is set to commemorate this the EDSA people power revolution that happened on Feb. 22 to 25 in 1986. The Palace said the celebration would be simple and quiet.
While expressing trust and fairness in the SC, Macalintal said he was puzzled by the decision of the high court allowing the election protest of Marcos.
The SC – sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal – rejected on Thursday Robredo’s arguments that it had no jurisdiction over the case and that Marcos’ complaint lacked form and substance.
Macalintal said Robredo’s lawyers are considering filing a motion for reconsideration as a remedy.
“I am still thinking of filing because we just received this (Thursday) and I have not yet talked to the entire legal team of Vice President Robredo,” Macalintal said in an interview with ANC.
The Vice President’s camp is ready to proceed to preliminary conference if the tribunal denies their motion for reconsideration, he added.
Macalintal maintained that the PET decision is merely “a procedural matter” to give Marcos the “opportunity” to prove his case.
“In other words, the (SC) is just telling Mr. Marcos to proceed with his electoral protest, or present your evidence,” he said.
“So it’s not a matter of having already established his own evidence but it’s still a matter for Mr. Marcos to prove before the (SC) the allegations that he has in his electoral protest,” he added.
But Macalintal also stressed the PET usually dismisses election protests with allegations similar to that of Marcos.
He cited the election protest that former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II filed against former vice president Jejomar Binay in 2010.
“The (PET) dismissed the case for having become moot and academic. In other words, nothing has been done in the said election protest filed by Roxas,” he said.
Macalintal said he is not questioning the jurisdiction of the PET, but he stressed that its rules state that if the allegations are not “very, very specific, if it is too general, if it is too broad, that is not the kind of protest” that it would allow to proceed.
“It is as if you are allowing the party to fish for evidence,” the lawyer said.
But Macalintal said he believes in the SC justices’ integrity, competence and fairness in deciding the case.
Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista refused to comment on the matter, saying “the case is with the SC.”
While facing issues concerning her rival in the last May elections, Robredo continues to fulfill her duties as second highest leader of the land.
She said there have been talks that the son and namesake of the late dictator would be given a Cabinet post as early as when she and Duterte were sworn into office in June last year.
Robredo resigned as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in December after Duterte asked her to stop attending Cabinet meetings.
Duterte said Robredo, his constitutional successor, joined calls for him to resign over the Marcos burial issue but the Vice President denied this. She also said she and the rest of her party, the Liberal Party, never had any part in plots to unseat Duterte.
Yesterday, Robredo called on the government to relocate families living near fault lines in Surigao del Norte to ensure their safety.
Robredo also visited the survivors of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake in San Francisco town and distributed relief goods, shelter materials and rescue equipment to affected families.
The Vice President also went around the town to inspect damaged houses and other structures, including the Anao-aon Bridge, which collapsed when the powerful quake hit the province on Feb. 10.
Robredo visited the Caraga Regional Hospital where some survivors of the earthquake are still confined.
She was likewise briefed by town officials on the extent of the earthquake damage in the area as well as the town’s rehabilitation plans.
Aftershocks continued to hit the province yesterday, although most of these were small tremors and were unfelt, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
A total of 203 aftershocks were recorded as of 2 p.m., Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said.
Phivolcs has sent its Quick Response Team to assess the effects of the magnitude 6.7 quake and its future hazards. The team is also conducting information campaign on earthquakes.
Solidum said Phivolcs’ assessments or recommendations would be given to local government units concerned.
The OVP has also partnered with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to help address hunger and malnutrition in the country.
Robredo said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the OVP and the WFP on Thursday for the conduct of a six-year program that would review the need for an Inter-Agency Commission for Food Security and Nutrition (IACFSN).
Under the MOU, the WFP has pledged $100,000 to fund the program.
The IACFSN is a multi-sectorial and multi-dimensional body charged with working with the relevant government agencies in policy formulation, coordination and advocacy for food security and nutrition.
In October last year, the OVP launched the Angat Buhay Partnerships Against Poverty Program which “aims to address poverty in the smallest, farthest and poorest communities in the country via linking their needs to private companies, international aid organizations and other volunteer groups.” With Sheila Crisostomo