PET issues gag order on VP poll protest case


MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has issued a gag order on the camps of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo in connection with the former’s election protest.

“Considering that the revision process is about to commence, the Tribunal directs both protestant and protestee to observe the sub judice rule,” read the two-page resolution dated February 13, 2018 singed by Felipa B. Anama, Clerk of the Tribunal.

It will be recalled that both parties are holding their separate press conferences and discussing the issues at hand.

Marcos’ counsel Vic Rodriguez said they already received the copy of the resolution and stressed that they would comply with it.

“Yes, we have received our copy of the PET resolution. Essentially it is just a reminder from the Tribunal for the parties to observe the sub judice rule which restricts litigants and their lawyers to make comments and/or disclosures on a pending judicial proceedings so that the case could be decided upon evidence presented before the court and the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice and sympathies. Fair and accurate reporting of what actually took place in open court are excluded from its coverage,” Rodriguez said in a text message sent to reporters.

The PET also ordered Marcos to comment on the motion filed by Robredo to “withdraw any and all pending motions which may delay recount proceedings”.

“Based on the records of this case, the Tribunal finds that there are no such pending motions from protestee. Accordingly, the Tribunal resolves to note the motion and require the protestant to submit his comment thereon and inform the tribunal if he intends to file a similar motion as that filed by protestee within 10 days from notice hereof,” PET said.

Both camps agreed to withdraw all the motions they had filed before PET to be able to proceed with the recount.

The PET is set to begin the recount next month.

The ballot recount covered the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental which were chosen by Marcos as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities he cited in his poll protest.

Robredo’s counsel, Romulo Macalintal said the recount covering the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental would commence on March 19.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.

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 briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 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.

The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier this year, junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.