MANILA—The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal ordered former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ to pay a total of PHP66.2-million for his election protest filed against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo.
The PET directed Marcos to deposit the said amount for the retrieval of election materials for the 132,446 precincts whose results are contested by his camp.
Under Section 33 (b) of the PET rules, a protestant is required to make a cash deposit to the tribunal the amount of PHP500 per contested precinct “if they require the bringing of the contested ballot boxes and election documents to the tribunal.”
“Based on the foregoing, the cash deposit for Protestant is PHP500 for each of the 132,446 precincts, which amounts to PHP66,223,000,” read the three-page resolution signed by SC clerk of court and PET clerk Atty. Felipa Anama.
Marcos, in his protest, assails the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts-36,465 of which he prays for the conduct of manual count and judicial revisions while he prays for the annulment of election results in the remaining 2,756. Based on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of the 132,446 precincts.
In the same ruling, PET also ordered Robredo to pay PHP15,639,000 for the 31,278 precincts.
Both Marcos and Robredo can pay on installment basis.
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.
Meanwhile, the camp of Marcos appealed the order in a motion for reconsideration.
Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos lawyer asked the PET to defer the order for payment of the deposit pending resolution of their plea to set the case for preliminary conference.
“We have asked for a re-computation of the amount, that instead of basing it on the number of established or traditional precincts, it should be based on number of clustered precincts with the advent of the automation of our system of election,” he explained.
Rodriguez also lamented the “impounding” of the resolution, which was promulgated last March 21 but they received only last Monday. They were informed about the order for payment only three working days before the deadline.
Marcos, in his last motion cited recent developments involving Robredo, particularly her controversial video message against President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration sent to the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs.
The said video is being eyed by administration allies as basis for Robredo’s impeachment.
“There is clearly a well-funded concerted effort to undermine the Duterte administration, just recently, Robredo’s video message on the alleged extra-judicial killings caused quite a stir among our patriotic countrymen,” he lamented.
Last Feb. 16, the PET has found sufficient grounds to proceed with the election protest filed by Marcos against 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.
”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.