By Cristina Eloisa Baclig | Inquirer.net
MANIA, Philippines – On May 9, 2016, Vice President Leni Robredo edged out former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. by 263,473 votes.
On May 27, 2016, Robredo was declared the winner after the closing of the canvassing of 166 certificates of canvass (COCs).
Based on the official count of Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, she garnered a total of 14,418,817 votes. Meanwhile, Marcos finishes second with 14, 155,344 votes.
This is despite early reports of Marcos gaining more votes from his known bailiwicks – the so-called “Solid North” like Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
Marcos is also the frontrunner during the first day of canvassing on May 10, 2016; however, his million-vote lead disappears overnight.
Unconvinced by the election results, Marcos, on June 11, announces that he will file an electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) “to find out the truth.”
INQUIRER.net looks back at the key events on the electoral protest.
June 29, 2016
Marcos asks the Supreme Court (SC) sitting as PET to set aside Robredo’s proclamation as vice president. He submits a 1,000-page petition that urges the PET to declare him as the Philippines’ duly elected and rightful vice president.
Aside from the petition, he also presents 20,000 pages of affidavits, certificates of canvass (COCs), and other supporting documents.
According to him, the votes for Robredo were “products of electoral frauds, anomalies, and irregularities.” Meanwhile, his votes “were significantly reduced, manipulated and altered” to make it appear that he placed behind Robredo in the race.
Marcos challenges the results in 132,446 established polling precincts in 27 cities and provinces, covering 39,221 clustered precincts. He likewise asks to annul the election results in Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur, which he claims the poll fraud occurred.
June 30, 2016
Despite Marcos’ appeal to postpone the proclamation, Robredo still takes her oath of office and is inaugurated as vice president.
July 12, 2016
In a two-page resolution, the SC summons Robredo to respond in ten days on Marcos’ election protest. The high court also asks the Commission Elections (Comelec) to preserve election returns (ERs) that are subject to protest through a Precautionary Protection Order (PPO).
August 11, 2016
The Marcos camp files a three-page letter-manifestation questioning the Comelec’s decision to issue a resolution approving the stripping of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and laptops used in the May 9 polls, despite the PPO from PET.
The stripping activity involves the backup of data from the automated election system so that Comelec can return the leased equipment to the service provider, Smartmatic International.
August 15, 2016
Robredo formally asks PET to dismiss the election protest filed against her by Marcos. In a 536-page response, she raised the issues raised by Marcos are not proper grounds for an election protest.
October 21, 2016
Through an urgent manifestation and motion, Marcos asks PET to “prohibit the poll body from releasing the subject VCMs” after the Comelec informed Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno it plans to return the machines to Smartmatic-TIM.
October 27, 2016
The Comelec starts returning over 1,000 VCMs to its supplier despite opposition from Marcos, whose poll protest was based partly on allegations that the election results had been manipulated with the use of VCMs.
November 25, 2016
Marcos appeals to PET to furnish them with the results of the decryption of the supposedly “unused” SD (secured digital) cards found to have data during the stripping process.
The Comelec conducted the stripping activities last October 26 and November 2 after it decided to release the 1,356 VCMs to Smartmatic, claiming they were not covered by the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) since they were not used and/or not deployed in the May elections.
January 24, 2017
In an eight-page resolution, the PET says the complaint of Marcos was sufficient in form and substance and was “beyond dispute,” paving the way for a formal hearing.
In upholding Marcos’ complaint, the poll tribunal dismisses Robredo’s argument that it had no jurisdiction over the matter since the former senator had questioned the authenticity of the COCs.
January 26, 2017
Marcos, through his legal counsel Vic Rodriguez, urges the PET to set the case for a preliminary conference so that his electoral protest can proceed.
February 27, 2017
Robredo files a motion of reconsideration to SC on her scrapped appeal.
April 12, 2017
The SC orders Marcos to pay a total of P66.2-million to retrieve election materials for his election protest against Robredo.
On the other hand, PET required Robredo to pay P15,639,000 for the 31,278 precincts.
The PET instructs both camps to pay through installment with the first tranche – P36 million for Marcos and P8 million for Robredo – due on or before April 14. The second payment – P30 million for Marcos and P7.5 million for Robredo – is meanwhile scheduled for settlement on or before July 14.
April 12, 2017
In a manifestation, Robredo, through her lawyer Romulo Macalintal asks PET to clarify its order requiring her to pay P15.44-million as a deposit for her counter-protest against Marcos.
April 17, 2017
Marcos pays P36 million to SC as the first installment of the required fee for the retrieval of election materials for his election protest against Robredo.
April 20, 2017
In a six-page omnibus motion, Marcos tells SC to dismiss Robredo’s counter-protest after her failure to pay the P8 million service fee.
April 25, 2017
The PET orders Robredo to pay the cash bond for her counter-electoral protest.
April 27, 2017
The SC approves Marcos’ request to get his electoral protest against Robredo off the ground by setting the preliminary conference of the case.
May 2, 2017
Robredo pays the initial P8 million out of the P15.44 million required by the PET for her counter-protest against Marcos.
This is after The Vice President paid the amount when the PET denied her request to defer payment of the P15.44-million cash bond.
May 5, 2017
Robredo asks SC to junk the motion seeking the dismissal of her counter-protest against the losing vice-presidential candidate.
June 6, 2017
The PET orders the appointment of retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug as the chairperson of the panel of commissioners to handle issues concerning the election case.
Atty. Angelito C. Imperio and Atty. Irene Ragodon-Guevarra joins Vitug as members of the panel.
June 16, 2017
Marcos asks the PET to conduct a vote recount in Camarines Sur, the home province of Robredo, and in Iloilo and Negros Oriental, where the Vice President posted landslide wins.
June 20, 2017
Robredo’s lawyers insist that Marcos should shoulder the P2.08 billion amount for the maintenance of the VCMs.
July 11, 2017
In a closed-door preliminary conference, the PET ordered the parties to submit their written comments on the legal issues discussed, including logistical concerns of some justices.
Marcos also pays the remaining P30 million for his electoral protest.
July 14, 2017
Robredo asks PET to defer her payment of the remaining cash deposit of P7.4-million for her counter-protest.
August 18, 2017
The SC defers Robredo’s P7 million balance for her counter-protest against Marcos.
September 5, 2017
The PET jettisons Marcos’ attempt to void Robredo’s proclamation.
In a 34-page resolution, the PET directs the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to submit a list of witnesses for the third course of action of his electoral protest five days after officially receiving its Aug. 29 order.
Robredo’s camp also files an urgent motion to PET ordering Marcos to post a cash bond of P2 billion for his request to let the custody of 92,509 vote-counting machines and other voting equipment remain with the Commission on Elections.
October 9, 2017
Marcos submits his list of 8,000 names of witnesses on the alleged electoral fraud in three Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) provinces.
October 23, 2017
Comelec begins decrypting and printing the ballot images from three pilot provinces that Marcos cited in his election protest against Robredo.
October 30, 2017
The PET rules that Comelec should pay for the cost of the overseas storage of election materials related to the election protest.
November 7, 2017
The PET allows Robredo to obtain copies of the ballot images from the decrypted SD cards from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
November 22, 2017
Robredo’s camp accuses Marcos of lying to PET after allegedly submitting a list of witnesses from three Mindanao provinces who were not even registered voters.
November 23, 2017
Marcos’ lawyer defends their camp by saying that the names in the list they submitted to PET “were named as witnesses – and not as registered voters.”
January 3, 2018
Robredo files a motion for clarification asking the PET to allow both parties and their representatives to be present during the ballot boxes’ inventory at the storage areas.
January 10, 2018
Marcos accuses PET of the “unfair and unjust” handling of his electoral protest against Robredo. He also says he wants to have a change of chairmanship.
February 6, 2018
Marcos announces that he had signed a joint manifestation to withdraw all motions filed before the PET to finally pave the way for a ballot recount.
February 8, 2018
Despite having no pending motion, Robredo files a plea with the PET to consider as “withdrawn” any supposed pending motion that may delay the ballot recount.
February 13, 2018
In a resolution, the high court orders both parties to observe the sub judice rule ordering them to stop discussing the merits of the protest in public.
April 2, 2018
The vote recount covering 5,418 precincts in three provinces — Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental — begins.
April 12, 2018
The PET issues a show cause order against Robredo and Marcos for violating the rule that prohibits disclosure of information involving the election protest in the 2016 vice presidential race.
August 6, 2018
Marcos asks for the inhibition of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa from his electoral protest.
In a 13-page “Extremely Urgent Motion to Inhibit,” Marcos accuses Caguioa of being biased towards the “yellow brigade,” noting that the magistrate is not only a former Cabinet Secretary during the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III but a childhood friend of the former leader as well.
August 8, 2018
The PET orders Robredo and Marcos to pay a fine of P50,000 each for violating its gag order.
Marcos pays the fine on the same day.
August 9, 2018
Robredo pays the fine imposed by PET.
September 3, 2018
The PET denies Marcos’ motion to inhibit Associate Justice Caguioa as justice-in-charge of his electoral protest against Robredo.
December 10, 2018
Marcos files an extremely urgent motion of grave concern with an omnibus motion asking the PET to investigate all concerned chairmen and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) who served in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan and determine their involvement and participation in the incidence of substituted voting in the said provinces.
January 21, 2019
The PET suspends ballot recount in two precincts –precinct 8 of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, and clustered precinct 42 in Barangay Sagbang, Valencia, Negros Oriental.
January 22, 2019
The PET says the revision of ballots in Marcos’ poll protest against Robredo is almost complete, except for a few wet or damaged ballots.
March 26, 2019
Marcos’ camp asks PET to conduct a technical examination of votes in several areas in Mindanao.
Marcos through Atty. Garcia reiterates his request that the Comelec submit its findings on the technical examination of the election returns (ERs) and election day computerized voters’ list initially conducted in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.
June 13, 2019
Robredo’s camp prompts PET to resolve the election protest filed by Marcos. In an urgent motion, Robredo, through her counsel Atty. Macalintal, says the result of the recent revision, recount, and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces chosen by Marcos showed that the Vice President’s lead even widens by as much as 15,000.
July 2, 2019
The PET refuses to junk Marcos’ poll protest and says that Robredo’s computation after revision, recount, and re-appreciation where she claimed has confirmed her victory is still “speculative.”
October 7, 2019
In the interest of transparency, Robredo’s camp asks PET to release a copy of the summary and committee reports on the revision, recount, and re-appreciation of ballots from three pilot provinces chosen by Marcos.
October 9, 2019
The PET, once again, reminds both camps not to discuss the case publicly.
“I would like to remind the parties and their lawyers to respect the order of the court not to comment or speak to the media about the case under the sub judice rule,” says Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Hosaka.
October 10, 2019
Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin assures that the poll protest filed by Marcos against Robredo is not being rigged.
“Don’t worry ‘di ko niluluto, di pwede lutuin ‘yan,” Bersamin tells the reporters.
(Don’t worry. I am not rigging it, it cannot be rigged.)
October 15, 2019
The PET allows the committee report’s release based on revision of ballots from the pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo – which Marcos chose as the provinces he believes had the most number of cheatings committed.
On the same day, Robredo insists that Marcos only wants to include other areas in the vote recount because there was no substantial recovery in the areas he initially chose for his poll protest.
“What Marcos wants is to have additional provinces from ARMM, if I am not mistaken Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan. He should have picked it from the beginning,” Robredo says in a press briefing.
Meanwhile, Marcos continues to assert he was cheated in the 2016 vice presidential race, saying Robredo had already robbed three years of what could have been his six-year term.
October 18, 2019
The PET rules in a decision that Robredo has maintained and even increased her lead against Marcos.
“Based on the final tally, after revision and appreciation of the votes in the pilot provinces, protestee Robredo maintained, as, in fact, she increased her lead over protestant Marcos. After the revision and appreciation, protestee Robredo’s lead increased from 263,473 to 278,566,” the PET mentions in its ruling.
Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, asks Marcos to “move on”, using the same words that the late dictator’s family uttered to critics saying the family that ruled the country for more than 20 years has yet to answer for abuses and thievery during their reign.
“It is clear that Marcos lost in the recount of provinces he himself picked,” Gutierrez says.
“Our position is clear. This is a definite basis to dismiss the protest,” Gutierrez said. “I would tell Mr. Marcos the same favorite phrase of his family—move on, you lost, accept it.”
October 19, 2019
Marcos’ lawyer reminds Robredo’s camp that the SC had junked the draft ruling of Associate Justice Caguioa on the electoral protest.
The dissenting opinion of Caguioa — who called for the Marcos protest’s dismissal for allegedly having no substantial recovery on the pilot provinces Marcos chose — is being used by the Robredo camp as a basis.
Robredo’s lawyer and spokesperson said that Caguioa has revealed that Robredo gained 15,000 votes in the initial recount results.
“Precisely why the majority of the Tribunal by a very decisive 11-2 vote emphatically junked that Caguioa minority opinion favoring Mrs. Leni Robredo finding the figures presented before them to be outrageous and ordered the election protest to proceed with the parties to file their Comment and Memoranda,” says Atty. Rodriguez.
“It only confirmed our suspicion that Mrs. Robredo’s premature celebration and claim of another fake victory in the Tribunal was a product of advance information she’s been receiving all along through a highly placed deep throat.”
On the other hand, Robredo laments how the alleged lies of Marcos’ camp on the 2016 vice presidential poll results have become contagious.
“Ang hindi ko naiintindihan kasi parang iyong pagsisinungaling, nakakahawa pala. Kasi pati iyong abogado nagsisinungaling na rin,” Robredo says in an interview.
October 28, 2019
Robredo remarks that the election protest must soon be resolved to avoid transforming it into an avenue for spreading lies.
“Wish ko lang na dapat matuldukan na ‘yong protest kasi nagiging avenue siya for spreading more lies. Nagiging platform siya para ‘yong mga kasinungalingan lalong ma-propagate (My wish is for this protest to end because it has become an avenue to spread lies. It has become a platform to propagate lies),” says Robredo.
November 8, 2019
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta dismisses public apprehensions that his appointment as the top magistrate could affect Marcos’ poll protest.
Peralta whose hometown is Laoag City, Ilocos Norte was the author of the decision that allowed former president Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“It is not correct (to say) that I have been favoring the Marcoses. This is only the decision that I favor the Marcoses. It is only in the burial,” he says.
November 13, 2019
Following Robredo’s appointment as the government’s drug czar, Atty. Macalintal urges Marcos’ camp to withdraw the electoral protest and consider it a graceful exit for the former senator.
November 30, 2019
Marcos says he is not interested in Robredo’s ouster. He also explains that he does not consider Robredo as an enemy.
He also says Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen will help his camp on the poll protest. “[H]e has never been sympathetic to me or my family on this protest.”
September 30, 2020
The PET orders Comelec to comment on Marcos’ bid to nullify the election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
January 7, 2020
In a 595-page memorandum, Marcos appeals to PET to again look into the preliminary results of the recount in connection with his electoral protest against Robredo.
“It is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Tribunal to reconsider, review and re-examine the preliminary appreciation conducted on the pilot protested provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental,” the memorandum says.
November 9, 2020
Marcos asks SC to inhibit Justice Leonen from his poll protest against Robredo.
November 10, 2020
The PET warns the camps of Robredo and Marcos of the existing gag order issued to them.
November 25, 2020
Again, Robredo requests PET to finally put to rest the poll protest of her defeated rival Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for his continued failure to back his allegations of election fraud.
February 16, 2021
After almost five years, the PET dismisses the election protest of Marcos against Robredo.
In its updated briefer Tuesday afternoon, the high court, through its Public Information Office says: “With regard to PET Case No. 005 (Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., protestant vs Maria Leonor “Leni Daang Matuwid” G. Robredo, protestee), the 15 members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal unanimously dismissed the entire electoral protest.”
“WHEREFORE, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal DISMISSES the Election Protest filed by protestant Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. for lack of merit. The Counter-Protest filed by protestee Maria Leonor “Leni Daang Matuwid” G. Robredo is likewise DISMISSED,” it added quoting the dispositive portion of the ruling.
In a press briefing, Robredo describes that the decision was a big sigh of relief for her and the whole staff of the Office of the Vice President.
“Marami na kasing sabi-sabi noong mga nakaraang araw, mga nakaraang linggo, na may lalabas. So kami, weekly, nag-aabang kami, so no’ng lumabas finally kanina sobrang gulat pa rin, at grabe ‘yong sigh of relief na unanimous ‘yong decision,” Robredo tells the reporters.
“Kasi alam naman natin kung ano ‘yong narrative na pinapalabas, and the fact na unanimous ‘yong decision malaking bagay ‘yon para maka-move on na tayong lahat.”
Robredo says that even if the OVP strived to keep its focus on delivering their duties despite being under the Marcos electoral protest’s shadow, the PET’s decision was still a welcome comfort that provides them more motivation and determination to serve the people.
On the other hand, Marcos’ camp maintains that his poll protest is not yet over since the dismissal only deals with its second cause of action and not the entire petition.
In a statement Tuesday from Marcos’ lawyer Atty. Rodriguez, he claims that the PET has yet to dismiss their third cause of action in the poll protest.
Meanwhile, Malacañang says it respects the PET’s decision to dismiss the election protest.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the Palace also respects that Marcos has a “further remedy” of moving for reconsideration.
“’Yan ay desisyon ng kataas-taasang hukuman, we respect that and we respect also that the camp of Senator Bongbong Marcos has a further remedy of moving for reconsideration,” he said in a briefing in Davao City.
(That is the decision of the high court and we respect that and we respect also that the camp of Senator Bongbong Marcos has a further remedy of moving for reconsideration.)
Minority senators likewise welcome the dismissal of the protest.
“Let us begin the healing process now and focus on what is before us – Covid-19 pandemic,” says Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.