By Ina Reformina | ABS-CBN News
The camp of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. says Vice President Leni Robredo is trying to delay his electoral protest.
Marcos labeled as "dilatory" the opposition lodged by Robredo to his motion for the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to hold a preliminary conference on his election protest.
In his reply submitted on Monday, Marcos stressed that the preliminary conference is "a matter of course" consistent with the rules of the PET, aimed at "[discussing] the order of trial and other procedural matters to aid the electoral tribunals like the PET to achieve a just, expensive, orderly and expeditious disposition of elections contests."
Marcos filed his motion for preliminary conference on January 26, two days after the PET junked Robredo's bid for the dismissal of Marcos' election protest, ruling that Marcos' protest was "sufficient in form and substance" and within the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
"Protestee (Robredo) has not interposed any compelling reason as to why this honorable tribunal (PET) should not proceed with the conduct of the preliminary conference in this case in accordance with… the '2010 Rules of the [PET].
"Protestee Robredo's opposition to the setting of the preliminary conference is obviously dilatory. This honorable tribunal should not be swayed by her ambiguous and distorted arguments," Marcos' reply read.
In her opposition, Robredo raised several issues and incidents, which, according to her, should first be disposed by the PET, including unused SD cards found to contain data, and diagnostics problems which caused the shutdown of the servers in the Sta. Rosa, Laguna warehouse of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Marcos said these are matters that should be part of the preliminary conference.
"The conduct of the preliminary conference cannot be stifled by the pending incidents in this case. The rule otherwise will open the floodgates to abuses by incumbent protestee's 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 protestee's like Robredo at the expense of the electorate.
"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?" Marcos stressed.
Marcos also stressed that under Rule 29 of the PET Rules, the preliminary conference must take place after the last pleading is filed, pointing out that the last pleading in the case was filed as early as September 9, 2016 or more than five months ago.
Marcos lost to Robredo in the May 2016 vice-presidential race by 263,473 votes.
His election protest alleges that there was massive vote-buying, pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote counting machines, a script change in the transparency server that allegedly altered the results in the VP race, and an "abnormally high" unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of vice-president.