The Supreme Court, convened as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, did not dismiss outright Marcos’ poll protest but instead voted to allow the release to the two camps of copies of the committee report on the revision and appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces named in the protest.
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Robredo: How many victories do I need?
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With another delay in the Supreme Court (SC)’s ruling on an electoral protest against her, Vice President Leni Robredo could only utter in disbelief: “So ilang panalo pa ba ang kailangan para maniwala siya na hindi siya ‘yung nanalo (So how many victories do I need to convince him that he’s not the winner)?”

She was referring to former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who was contesting her victory in the vice presidential race in 2016.

The SC, convened as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), did not dismiss outright Marcos’ poll protest but instead voted to allow the release to the two camps of copies of the committee report on the revision and appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces named in the protest.

The SC also voted 11-2 to give the two camps 20 days to submit memoranda on issues “and other matters” relating to Marcos’ plea for annulment of election results for vice president in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, who retires today, was among the 11 who voted in favor of Marcos.

Only Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Benjamin Caguioa dissented, citing Rule 65 of the rules of the PET.

Reacting to the SC decision, Robredo said she felt “half-relieved.” Marcos, on the other hand, said the development gave him another opportunity to present evidence. “Relieved because the committee report will be finally made public,” Robredo told reporters. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

She lashed out at Marcos for insisting he won the elections even if it was she who was declared winner by Congress based on results of vote counting by the Commission on Elections and on a recount prompted by his own electoral protest.

She said she felt “frustrated” with the SC, sitting as PET, for its decision not to dismiss Marcos’ protest outright.

“We still maintain our belief that there is no acceptable decision but to dismiss the protest in accordance with Rule 65 of the PET, and in accordance with the results of the recount,” she said.

She expressed confidence the initial recount would prove that Marcos did not get substantial recovery in the three pilot provinces he personally chose – Camarines Sur, Robredo’s bailiwick; Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

“He was the one who chose the three provinces which best exemplify the fraud that he is alleging,” Robredo said.

Rule 65 states that the election protest must be dismissed if the protestant fails to prove his allegations of fraud and irregularities in the three pilot areas.

Marcos wants the PET to declare the election results in these three areas as null on grounds of alleged terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters.

“We will follow the SC order as we always do. We always respect the Supreme Court orders. We will abide by the order to file a memorandum within 20 days of receipt (of the order),” Robredo said.

‘Not the robber’

Asked to comment on Marcos’ claim that he was “robbed” of the vice presidency, Robredo said: “Between the two of us, I know I’m not the robber.”

Robredo defeated Marcos in the May 2016 polls by a slim margin of more than 200,000 votes.

Marcos said he is happy with the SC decision because it means “the case is alive and it continues.” He said the tribunal made the right move by not dismissing his case outright.

“We would continue to fight and reach the point that we are able to present our evidence to the tribunal… What happened today is, the case goes on and we will go from strength to strength,” said Marcos.

“Of course it is frustrating but what are you going to do. You have to trust the wisdom of our justices, and also the case is complicated. This is the first time any presidential protest arrived at this stage,” he added.

His spokesman Vic Rodriguez also lauded the SC decision. “We welcome the pronouncement made by the tribunal today which junked the move of Mrs. Robredo and Justice Caguioa to have the election protest dismissed outright solely on the basis of our first cause of action even without commencing the proceedings on our second cause of action,” he said.

“The directive to file our memoranda in relation to our second cause of action is likewise a positive development because finally, for the first time after three years, we shall now deal with the issues on the annulment of the election results in the province of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao,” he added.

Members of the Senate minority bloc, led by Sen. Franklin Drilon, said the SC decision appeared to favor Marcos.

They said Marcos was asked to choose three provinces where he thought he was cheated, but the recount showed Robredo gaining more votes.

“What should happen now: dismiss the case. End the lies. Accept the truth that Leni Robredo is the Vice President of the country,” the minority bloc said in a statement.

They lamented that the SC instead asked both sides to comment on another Marcos petition.

“Why does it seem that the Court is setting aside its own rules that states that the case should be dismissed if Mr. Marcos could not show he was leading in the provinces he himself chose? When will this end? When the world has turned upside down and the lies have become the truth?” they said.

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima, also a member of the opposition, called for greater unity and vigilance.

“Let’s protect VP Leni and the sanctity of our votes,” she said in a statement from Camp Crame.

“The injustices and impunity happening in our midst for the last three years must not be compounded by an injustice inflicted upon our sovereign will,” she said.

“Let’s pray for a just and judicious ruling from the Presidential Electoral Tribunal,” she said.

Malacañang, for its part, declared its hands off on the issue. “First, as we have repeatedly said, we never interfere with the function and duty and work of any co-equal branch as well as independent constitutional bodies, so we’ll leave it at that,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday. – Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan

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