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Robredo lawyers counter Marcos plea: By your logic, should all justices recuse from poll protest?
This undated file photo shows Vice President Leni Robredo and lawyer Romulo Macalintal, her lead legal counsel in the vice presidential poll protest.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Robredo lawyers counter Marcos plea: By your logic, should all justices recuse from poll protest?

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - November 11, 2020 - 12:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following the “logic” in former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s motion to inhibit for Associate Justice Marvic Leonen would result in the recusal of most, if not all, magistrates of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal from the poll protest, the lawyers of Vice President Leni Robredo said in a court filing.

Robredo’s legal team on Wednesday filed a Counter Manifestation on Marcos’ motion for Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s inhibition from the case proceedings.

Marcos accused Leonen, said to be member-in-charge of the poll protest, of supposedly manifesting partiality in favor of Robredo. He said the justice is “biased, partisan, and prejudiced” in the case.

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

Part of the motion cited a two-part article on the Manila Times, written by Jomar Canlas, reporting on a supposed “25-page Reflections” draft of Leonen that was circulated to his colleagues at the PET in July 2017.

Robredo’s lawyers pointed out Marcos had earlier accused Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa of bias when he sought his recusal from the case proceedings. This motion was junked by the SC and earned Marcos a “stern warning” for his “unfounded and inappropriate accusation.”

“In arriving at its Resolution, the Honorable Tribunal reminded protestant Marcos that while his narration may be good reading as a conspiracy theory, but when used as a ground for inhibition, [it] must transcend fiction,” the counter manifestation read.

The lawyers also noted that Marcos again relied on reports by Canlas, whom they said has also been warned by the Supreme Court “for hurling unfounded and baseless accusations against the sitting magistrates.”

RELATED: Like Marcos, Calida pushes for Leonen inhibition in VP poll protest

Leonen’s dissent on Marcos burial

In his motion filed Monday, Marcos cited Leonen’s dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the burial of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

He claimed 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 motion read.

But Robredo’s lawyers said that to follow the logic and reasoning of Marcos would result in “absurdity if not inhibition of most, if not all the members of the Honorable Tribunal.”

They pointed out that Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta wrote the decision that allowed the burial of the late dictator and family patriarch Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe concurred with the ruling.

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa meanwhile is the classmate of the Marcos’ wife, while Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo previously worked at the Presidential Commission on Good Government—the agency created to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth—before becoming a magistrate of the SC.

The rest of the justices meanwhile were all appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“To follow the logic of protestant Marcos, the members of the Honorable Tribunal who were appointed by President Durterte should also inhibit from this Election Protest,” they said.

The lawyers noted that the “differences” between Duterte and Robredo are public knowledge, and the president has also admitted to being indebted to Sen. Imee Marcos for funding his campaign.

They argued: Should Robredo, in turn, be assuming bias on the part of Duterte appointees to the SC? “Are the members of the High Tribunal who have been appointed by President Duterte now biased in favor of protestant Marcos?”

Robredo’s lawyers pressed: “The delay in the resolution of this Election Protest can only be ascribed to the steadfast refusal of protestant Marcos to accept the plain and simple truth—he lost, not once but twice.”

Solicitor General Jose Calida also sought Leonen’s inhibition in an unrelated motion that raised almost the same arguments as with Marcos’. Robredo’s lawyer said they will question Calida’s filing to the tribunal.

BONGBONG MARCOS LENI ROBREDO MARVIC LEONEN POLL PROTEST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL SUPREME COURT
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