VP Robredo pays initial PHP8-M counter protest fee in SC

MANILA — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday paid PHP8-million as first installment of the PHP15.44 million required by Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed against her.

Robredo paid the amount after the PET denied her petition to defer her payment of PHP15.44 million as deposit for her petition to dismiss the election protest.

Robredo said that the down payment came from her personal funds and loan from relatives of her late husband former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

”Ang PHP8 million po hirap na hirap tayo para ibigay, iyong PHP36 million po ng mga Marcos isang iglap nandiyan na agad. Pero tayo po kahit mahirap, kahit po maraming pagsubok ang pinagdadaanan, hindi naman po natin ipapayag na basta-basta nalang kunin sa atin ang boses ng taumbayan,” Robredo told reporters on Tuesday.

”Alam po ninyo na ang laban na ito hindi lang po ito tungkol sa akin. Ang laban pong ito tungkol sa ating lahat. Tungkol po sa ating mga Pilipino na nangnanais na hintuin na ang dating kalakaran sa ating pamahalaan. Nagpapasalamat po kami na kahit napakahirap po ng laban, alam po natin kung gaano kahirap labanan ang mga Marcos, maraming pera, talagang ang pagnanais makabalik sa kapangyarihan nandiyan,” she added.

The second tranche of payment of PHP7.43 million is required to be given on July.

Earlier, the PET set the preliminary conference on the protest of Marcos and counter-protest of Robredo on June 21 at 2 p.m.

The PET has scheduled the hearing upon plea by Marcos after it denied the motion of Robredo questioning the cash bonds set by the tribunal for the protest and counter-protest.

The tribunal composed of the 15 SC justices has decided to set just one preliminary conference for the protest and counter-protest, citing Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules that allows adjustment in rules” to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the tribunal.”

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

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: The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof, the simplification of the issues, the limitation of the number of witnesses and the most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, elections returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protest.

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.

The tribunal earlier required Robredo to pay about half of the cash deposit of PHP8 million last April 14. But after rejecting her appeal on the order, she was given five days from receipt of the latest order to pay the amount.

The camp of Marcos said they would monitor closely where Robredo would get the PHP15.44 million to comply with the PET order.

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/PNA-northboundasia.com