Journal Online - Leonen asked to inhibit from BBM poll case

13 October 2020

By Hector Lawas | Journal Online

LAWYER Larry Gadon yesterday asked Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit from the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a statement, Gadon stressed that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s (PET) recent order on the controversial Marcos election case, where Leonen is the justice-in-charge (ponente), is “more than enough reason to believe that he (Leonen) is not capable to judiciously handle the case.”

Gadon explained that Leonen, instead of directly proceeding with the technical examination and forensic investigation of election results in three Mindanao provinces, required the parties to file their comments.

He lamented thay this would only delay the PET’s resolution into the four-year-old electoral case.

In a recent ruling, PET required the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on pending issues in the Marcos electoral protest case.

In a resolution, PET directed the poll body to comment on whether a petition was filed seeking to declare failure of elections in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao. It also wanted to know if special elections were held in these areas.

Marcos has sought to nullify election results in these provinces due to alleged electoral fraud during the 2016 vice presidential election.

PET gave the Comelec 20 days to file its comment. Likewise, the same period of time was given to the poll body and OSG to comment on whether the tribunal was empowered by the 1987 Constitution to rule on annulment of election results even sans special elections.

At the same time, Gadon rejected PET’s alleged alibi of the COVID-19 outbreak as reason for the delays in resolving the electoral protest, saying the high court never stopped operating even during the months that the government has imposed hard lockdowns in most of the country.

“And even if we’re under pandemic, madali naman gawin yung one-page document or order. Dapat nga January nailabas na yan, or at the latest before the pandemic… and even during the pandemic, hindi naman na-stop yung operation ng court eh. They can easily do that and send it to the parties. Pero bakit 11 months bago niya pinadala. It is because Leonen is a yellow justice,” Gadon said.

In his electoral protest, Marcos’ third cause of action was the annulment of election results for vice president in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.

Likewise, Marcos asked PET to get handwriting experts to validate voter signatures in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan which he claimed were highly questionable and dubious.

“The results in the appreciation of the ballots in the pilot precincts are not mathematically insurmountable as to render the third cause of action moot and academic,” he said.

Marcos asked that the 477,985 votes Robredo garnered in the three Mindanao provinces be immediately voided. The former senator got 169,160 votes in these areas.

Voiding the votes in these provinces would wipe out Robredo’s lead of 263,473 votes during the last vice presidential election.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.

But in his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.

He named three provinces where he can supposedly prove that irregularities marred the conduct of the 2016 national and local elections.