De Lima urges SET to cite Francis Tolentino in contempt

By , on October 24, 2017

FILE: The senator believes that the revision is a waste of time and resources. (Photo by Cesar Tomambo/Senate of the Philippines)
FILE: The senator believes that the revision is a waste of time and resources. (Photo by Cesar Tomambo/Senate of the Philippines)

Senator Leila De Lima has urged the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on Tuesday to cite former senatorial aspirant and presidential adviser on political affairs Francis Tolentino in contempt for his media interview discussing alleged irregularities during 2016 national elections.

In a five-page motion De Lima filed to the SET through her lawyer, Teddy Rigoroso, she accused Tolentino of violating the sub-judice rule for commenting on the 2016 national election when SET has already started the recounting of ballots, including his electoral protest.

The sub-judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice; it says that anyone violating the sub judice rule can be cited for indirect contempt of court under Section 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.

“When protestant Tolentino makes false and misleading utterances, the integrity of the Tribunal’s proceedings is put in question. Such public utterances also tend to violate the sub judice rule,” De Lima said.

Tolentino claimed in a media interview that several ballot boxes from Calbayog City contained ballots used during the 2013 elections. He also claimed that the zero votes in Isabela City, Basilan, and six municipalities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were “statistically improbable.”

“The doctrine of statistical improbability does not apply especially since she also garnered zero votes in the same precincts that Tolentino identified,” the motion read.

De Lima said in her motion that the claims of Tolentino were misleading given that Tolentino and his revision team were knowledgeable that only one ballot box referred to the 2013 elections.

“This statement serves no purpose but to mislead the public and this Tribunal. Protestant Tolentino and his entire revision team knew that only one (1) ballot box pertaining to Clustered Precinct No. 60030008 of Calbayog City, Western Samar referred to the 2013 elections,” she said.
“But by impressing upon the public that 2013 ballots are mixed up with the 2016 ballots, protestant Tolentino is trying to insinuate fraud or irregularity that is not really there,” she added.

De Lima also said in a statement that the one ballot box and all of its contents are election paraphernalia from the 2013 elections that were transmitted to the SET through no fault on her end, but “due to the error of the City Treasurer of Calbayog City.”

Moreover, the senator believes that the revision is a waste of time and resources.

“All in all, these initial results only show that the revision is a waste of time and resources, resources that only Tolentino has. He is, after all, the political adviser to the President who has undertaken all efforts to destroy me and remove me from my office as Senator of the Republic,” De Lima said.

Tolentino ranked 13th in the 2016 national elections, while the detained senator placed 12th.

As of writing, Tolentino’s party hasn’t released any statement regarding the motion filed by De Lima.