‘Barely 2 months after he filed his election protest, a preliminary conference was already scheduled for losing VP candidate Mar Roxas’
The legal team of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos’ legal team compared the ongoing delay of the preliminary conference in his election protest to that of former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. In Roxas’ case, it only took the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, 2 months after the case was filed to schedule the preliminary conference.
The camp of the former Senator also deplored the dilatory tactics being employed by former Camarines Sur Rep. Leni “Daang Matuwid” Robredo saying that they were designed to prevent the truth about the massive cheating conducted in the May 2016 elections from coming out.
In an eleven-page Reply to Robredo’s Opposition of his motion to set the case for preliminary conference, 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 (5) 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 (6) years. 8 months have already gone by.”
“If protestee Robredo has nothing to hide, then she should do everything in her power to encourage – rather than hinder – this election protest to move forward. The millions of voters who trooped to the polls 8 months ago deserve no less. They want the truth to come out. The sooner the better.”
In an interview after the filing, lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, said "(n)ot content with cheating Sen. Bongbong Marcos last election and not stopping at having cheated her way to the vice-presidency, Leni Robredo is continuously cheating the Filipino people by depriving them their rightful Vice President and the speedy resolution of the election protest. 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." 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."