MANILA — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to extend the July 14 deadline for paying the remaining cash deposit required for her counter election protest against former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the vice presidential election last year.
Robredo’s lead counsel, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the PET granted their plea for extension of the deadline for payment of the PHP7.43-million balance during preliminary conference last Tuesday and just required them to submit a formal motion.
The PET did not specify a new deadline during the preliminary conference but ordered the vice president’s camp to explain when payment should be made.
As compliance, Robredo’s lawyers, Macalintal and Maria Bernadette Sardillo, filed a motion Thursday late afternoon asking for the extension of the payment until there’s an initial determination that losing candidate Marcos has made a “substantial recovery in his designated three pilot provinces.”
Marcos earlier identified Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental as his three pilot provinces. No decision has been reached by the PET on the commencement of proceedings for the pilot.
Robredo’s legal counsels maintained that Marcos’ protest should be dismissed if the pilot areas will fail to overturn Robredo’s victory. The collection and retrieval of the ballot boxes for Robredo’s counter-protest will only commence after Marcos has shown that he has managed to overcome the vice president’s winning margin of 263,473 votes.
“Thus, in the interim and in the interest of justice, Robredo asks that she be allowed to pay the second installment of her cash deposit in the amount of PHP7,439,000 after a determination has been made that protestant Marcos has made a substantial recovery from his three designated pilot provinces,” the motion stated.
Robredo clarified that the motion is not intended to delay the case but was simply a compliance with the PET’s order.
Last April, Robredo paid PHP8 million for the first tranche of the PHP15.43 million bond required by PET for her counter-protest against Marcos. Her camp said the amount came from loans and her personal savings.
Marcos, on the other hand, has fully paid the PHP66,023,000 million in cash bond required for his protest against Robredo.
He paid the first tranche amounting to PHP36,023,000 last April and the remaining balance of PHP30,000,200 last Monday.
His camp claimed that the amount came from contributions and from a condominium unit he sold.
Under Section 33 (b) of the PET rules, a protestant is required to make a cash deposit to the tribunal the amount of P500 per contested precinct “if they require the bringing of the contested ballot boxes and election documents to the tribunal.”
Marcos filed the protest on June 29 last year, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May also year. He sought annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces — Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.
In his preliminary conference brief, Marcos also sought the recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo filed her answer in August last year and also filed counter-protest and questioned the results in over 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.
She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.
But the tribunal, in a ruling earlier this year, junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding of sufficiency in form and substance in the protest.
Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes. Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com