Robredo camp employing delay tactics on poll protest case — Marcos

MANILA — The legal team of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos on Monday said that dilatory tactics are being employed by Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo saying that they were designed to prevent the truth about the massive cheating in the May 2016 elections from coming out.

”Today (Monday), we file the reply of Sen. Marcos and just a brief statement not content having cheated Marcos and her way to vice presidency, Leni Robredo is continuously cheating the Filipino people by depriving them of their rightful vice president and for the speedy resolution of this election protest,” lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos told reporters after filing the his Reply to the Opposition of Robredo to his motion to set his election protest for preliminary conference before the Supreme Court (SC).

”We have refuted all her lame justification on why the preliminary conference should not proceed notwithstanding the Court’s clear pronouncement that “it is beyond dispute the Tribunal have jurisdiction,” Rodriguez noted.

“We have waited an inordinate amount of time but instead of working for its expeditious resolution, it has become obvious that delay is the name of Robredo’s game. She is afraid of the truth and determined to suppress at all cost the genuine will of the people. She is determined not to proceed with the preliminary conference sapagkat nga po natatakot siya na maisambulat ang katotohanan,” he added.

In an eleven-page Reply to Robredo’s Opposition of his motion to set the case for preliminary conference, lawyer George Erwin Garcia, Marcos’ counsel, said that Robredo’s objection to set the case for preliminary conference is “obviously dilatory” because by law, the Tribunal could have set the same as early as September 9, 2016.

“To date, more than five months have lapsed since the filing of the Answer Ad Cautelam to the Counter-Protest, the last pleading in this case. It thus behooves this Honorable Tribunal to immediately schedule the conduct of the Preliminary Conference in this case as mandated by its own Rules of Procedure. Protestee Robredo’s opposition to the setting of the Preliminary Conference is obviously dilatory in nature. This Honorable Tribunal should not be swayed by her ambiguous and distorted arguments,” the pleading stated.

Robredo’s argument that there remain pending incidents which have first to be resolved by the Tribunal because a Preliminary Conference could be scheduled is misleading, Garcia said.

“In a long line of decided cases, the Supreme Court has held that in an election protest, different causes of action can proceed independently of each other. This is because the sovereign will of the people is the core issue in an election protest. Thus, the purpose of a Preliminary Conference is precisely to avoid unnecessary delays and speed up the process so that the people’s voice will be heard,” he stated.

The issues brought up by Robredo regarding the numerous unused SD cards which were found to have data, problems with the diagnostics which led to the shutting down of the servers in the Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna as well as other procedural matters would be discussed in the Preliminary Conference. These matters could be threshed out during the conference in order to achieve a just, inexpensive, orderly and expeditious disposition of the election contest.

“The conduct of the Preliminary Conference cannot be stifled by the pending incidents in this case. To rule otherwise will open the floodgates to abuses by incumbent protestees who will conveniently file flimsy and dilatory motions in order to drag the proceedings in an election protest. Needless to say, protracted delays in the resolution of electoral contest cases will only benefit protestees like Robredo” because she does not want the truth to come out.

“If protestee Robredo has nothing to hide, why does she keep trying to delay the proceedings? What is there to fear about a simple Preliminary Conference?,” he added.

Not content with finding ways to delay the case, Garcia also accused Robredo of raising issues that have no bearing to the scheduling of a Preliminary Conference.

He then noted the election protest filed by Roxas against former Vice President Jejomar Binay wherein it took the PET only 2 months after the filing of the petition to schedule the Preliminary Conference on September 30, 2010.

“As an aside, it is noteworthy to mention that the Preliminary Conference in the case of Manuel A. Roxas v. Jejomar C. Binay was scheduled on 30 September 2010 – i.e., two (2) months after the filing of Roxas’ election protest on 9 July 2010. In the instant case, eight (8) months have already lapsed since the filing of Marcos’ election. Regrettably, the Preliminary Conference has yet to be scheduled,” he pointed out.

He further stated, “(k)nowing that the clock is ticking, it is now incumbent upon this Honorable Tribunal to set the Preliminary Conference in this case at the soonest possible time so as not to render this election protest moot and academic. The term of a Vice-President is only six years. Eight months have already gone by.”

Last Feb. 16, the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has found sufficient grounds to proceed with the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo.

The Tribunal affirms its jurisdiction over the instant Protest, which is sufficient in form and substance. The protestee’s [Robredo] prayer to dismiss the Protest for lack of jurisdiction and for being insufficient in form and substance is denied,” PET said in an eight-page resolution dated Jan. 24 but was released to media on Thursday.

”However, while the Tribunal finds the Protest sufficient in form and substance, it must be emphasized that, as to the veracity of the protestant’s allegations, nothing yet has been proved. The Protest is only sufficient for the Tribunal to proceed and give the protestant the opportunity to prove his case in accordance with the 2010 PET Rules,” it added.

The PET also said the election protest is sufficient in form and substance.

“The protest contained narrations of ultimate facts on the alleged irregularities and anomalies in the contested clustered precincts, which the protestant needs to prove in due time,” the PET said.

Contrary to Robredo’s argument, the PET said they have the jurisdiction to act on the electoral protest as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.

“Section IV, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Rule 13 of the 2010 PET Rules provides that the Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President and Vice President. The phrase “election, election, returns, and qualifications” refers to all matters affecting the validity of the contestee’s title, which includes questions on the validity, authenticity and correctness of the Certificates of Canvass,’ the PET said.

At the same time, it clarified that while they found the protest sufficient in form and substance, the veracity of Marcos’ allegations against Robredo are yet to be proven.

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.