Claiming bias, Marcos wants Leonen out of poll proceedings vs Robredo

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - November 9, 2020 - 9:43am

MANILA, Philippines (Update 3, 4:01 p.m.) — Citing an alleged bias for Vice President Leni Robredo, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday sought the inhibition of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen from his pending poll protest.

Marcos personally went to the Supreme Court, which sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to file his motion seeking Leonen’s inhibition “on the ground of evident bias and manifest partiality in favor” of Robredo.

He also urged the tribunal to immediately re-raffle his petition and resolve the pending incidents in his poll protest.

Leonen is reportedly the member-in-charge of the petition.

Marcos, in his motion, said that Leonen "displayed palpable bias and partiality against the entire Marcos family" in his dissenting opinion on the burial of the family patriarch and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

READ: Roundup: Dissenting opinions of SC justices on Marcos burial

He claimed that Leonen “candidly expressed how much he loathed” his father, whom the justice called as “no hero... not even an exemplary public officer.” Leonen had also noted that Marcoses had not given “sufficient public apology, full acknowledgement of facts, or any clear acceptance of responsibility” on the human rights violations committed during martial law.

The former senator also cited the two-part article on the Manila Times reporting on a supposed “25-page Reflections” draft of Leonen that was circulated to his colleagues at the PET in July 2017.

In the article, Leonen supposedly said the protest should be dismissed outright, and Marcos said this shows that the justice prejudged the case.

Leonen’s act to seek comment from the Office of the Solicitor General and the Commission on Elections on whether the PET can declare annulment of elections without conducting special elections—an issue raised in Marcos’ third cause of action—puts the case in peril, his legal team added.

“If [Leonen] was unsure about the PET’s jurisdiction, then he should have made inquiries a year ago, when the case was first raffled to him in October 2019,” the motion further read.

Delay in proceedings

In the press conference, Marcos said that with Leonen as member-in-charge of the case, their poll protest would not be resolved on time.

He said Leonen asking comment from the Comelec and the OSG on pending issues of the case was to delay the proceedings. “If you asked about jurisdiction after four and a half years if we have in fact jurisdiction, then that is clearly a delaying tactic,” he added.

Marcos also mentioned the filing of certificate of candidacies in the 2022 elections. “I said that’s too much already because we are nearing filing in October, next October. We have to do something because it is very clear that Justice Leonen has prejudged this case, is hostile to me, to my family, to our entire group,” he added.

He claimed that if Leonen continues to sit as member-in-charge of the case, he will force proceedings to become moot and academic.

Robredo legal team to Marcos: Stop acting like a spoiled brat

In a statement, Robredo’s lawyers Bernadette Sardillo and Emil Marañon said they were not surprised by Marcos' move to seek Leonen's recusal from the case.

"This is another trademark move of Mr. Marcos. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he moves to attack the integrity of an institution or a person to force them to give in to his desires," they added.

"May we remind Mr. Marcos that it's already 2020. This is no longer the period the period of his father’s reign of terror where they can do anything they want. [He should] stop acting like a spoiled brat who cries when he doesn’t get his candy," the lawyers added.

They urged Marcos to "face reality" that Robredo won the elections.

After the PET finished the recount of votes in Marcos’ three pilot provinces, it said in a resolution that Robredo’s votes increased from 263,473 to 278,566 or by more than 15,000 votes.

"We are tired that to this day, after [Robredo] winning in the elections and recount, Mr. Marcos continues to distract and lie," they added.

Second inhibition motion

Marcos had also sought the inhibition of Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, accusing the magistrate of being a “partial and biased” judge. But the PET junked Marcos’ plea for inhibition and sternly warned him and his legal counsels “that any unfounded and inappropriate accusation made in the future will be dealt with more severely.”

Caguioa was previously the member-in-charge of the case until it was re-raffled after the release of the report on the recount of ballots from Marcos’ three identified pilot provinces.

Caguioa and former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio dissented and voted that the case should be dismissed.

Asked on their new motion for inhibition against another justice, Marcos said they are not interested in legal maneuvers. “All I want is for this case to be finished, before it becomes moot and academic,” he added.

Marcos said that their filing seeking Caguioa’s recusal may have been done under different circumstances, but their motion against Leonen is urgent.

"I think the advice that is given to the justices when they are asked to inhibit is proper self-examination of their actuations and I hope he does that. Because if he does, and if anyone does it well, you will see clearly that he is biased, he’s partisan, and he’s prejudiced," he added.

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