Preliminary conference on Marcos poll protest vs VP Robredo set in June

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on Wednesday granted the motion filed by former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., to set a definite date for the preliminary conference on his electoral protest filed against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced on Wednesday during their en banc session in Baguio City where the high court is holding its annual summer session.

“The PET granted protestant’s (Marcos) motion for the setting of the preliminary conference and has set this case for preliminary conference on June 21, 2017 at 2 in the afternoon, without prejudice to the Tribunal’s resolution of all remaining pending incidents,” the Tribunal said.

Also in the same resolution, the Tribunal said it would conduct the preliminary conference on Robredo’s counter-protest at the same time.

“Considering, however, that Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules mandate that the rules are to be liberally construed to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the tribunal, the PET has deemed it proper to conduct the preliminary conference of both protests jointly and that the issues raised during the preliminary conference should include issues of the protest and the counter-protest,’ it added.

The resolution also directed both parties to file their preliminary conference briefs with the Tribunal and serve the same on the adverse party at least five days before the date of the preliminary conference.

Further, the Tribunal also requires both parties to file their respective preliminary conference briefs, which contain the following:

On Tuesday, the PET denied the petition filed by Robredo seeking reconsideration of its March 21 resolution and directed her to pay the cash deposit as stated in the said resolution regarding the election protest filed by Marcos.

”The PET denied protestee Robredo’s motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated March 21, 2017 and directed protestee Robredo to pay the cash deposit as stated in the Resolution dated March 21, 2017 within a non-extendible period of five days from notice of Resolution,” the Tribunal said.

In the same order, the high court deferred action on Marcos’ omnibus motion to dismiss the counter protest until Robredo complies with the directive to pay the deposit.

Last March 21, the PET ordered Marcos to pay PHP66,223,000 for the 132,446 precincts for his election protest against Robredo to proceed.

In its three-page resolution, PET ruled that Marcos should pay PHP36,023,000 on or before April 14 and PHP30-million on or before July 14 while Robredo is required to pay PHP8 million on or before April 14, and PHP7,439,000 on or before July 14.

Last April 17, Marcos went personally to the SC Clerk of Court to pay the first installment.

In an open letter to the PET, Marcos’ friends and supporters said that the second tranche amounting to PHP30 million would be paid on or before July 14.

The total amount would cover the cost for the resolution of Marcos’ election protest against Robredo.

Robredo, on the other hand, was reportedly required to pay the cash deposit in PHP8 million last April 14, which fell on Good Friday, and another PHP7,439,000 on or before July 14.

But Robredo reportedly failed to pay the partial PHP8 million and instead filed a manifestation last April 12.

It will be recalled that Marcos filed an election protest against Robredo in June 2016, contesting 39,221 clustered precincts which are composed of 132,446 established precincts. Robredo, meanwhile, filed a counter-protest, questioning 8,042 clustered precincts which are composed of 31,278 established precincts.

Marcos has assailed Robredo’s plea and asked the PET to dismiss her counter-protest since she failed to settle the first installment as directed by the Tribunal.

In arguing for the dismissal of the counter-protest, Marcos cited Rule 34 of the 2010 PET Rules which states “if a party fails to make cash deposits or additional deposits herein required within the prescribed time limit, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest or counter-protest, or take such action as it may deem equitable under the circumstances.”

Marcos also cited two decisions in election cases-Perla Garcia vs House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Rep. Harry Angping and Bienvenido William Lloren vs. Commission on Elections and Rogelio Pua Jr. in which the SC upheld the summary dismissal of the cases for failure to make the required cash deposits within the prescribed time limit.

Marcos earlier said he decided to file the electoral protest due to the series of frauds, anomalies and irregularities that marred the May 9 elections and that such activities made sure he would lose to Robredo, the vice presidential candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party.

Robredo won the 2016 vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/