By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to reverse its earlier decision dismissing his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo on ground that it committed grave error in violation of the protestant’s constitutional right to due process.
In his 95-page motion for reconsideration, Marcos said the 15-member PET committed grave error because it sacrificed his constitutional right to due process in exchange for expediency.
“Because of protestant’s constitutional right to be heard, it is well-settled that between this constitutional right and the rigid and inflexible adherence by this Court to the wordings of the Rules of Court (on the non-existence of procedural rules), the conclusion should have been to give greater accord to the constitutional intent to give the parties all possible avenues to prove their case,” Marcos stressed.
Marcos recalled that on October 15, 2019, the PET, voting 11-2, required Marcos and Robredo to submit their respective Memoranda on why Marcos’ third “Cause of Action” should be heard.
After the parties submitted their briefs, the tribunal sought the opinion of both the Office of the Solicitor General and the Commission on Elections on whether it could hear evidence on the massive cheating that occurred in the provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan and Lanao del Sur. Both agencies replied in the affirmative.
Despite the pronouncements of both the OSG and the Comelec, the PET decided to dismiss Marcos’ protest, citing the absence of specific rules regarding annulment of elections -- which was Marcos’ third Cause of Action.
Marcos noted that this did not sit well with then presiding Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta who wrote that “the absence of a specific rule should not dissuade the tribunal from taking cognizance and giving due course to contests praying for the annulment of election results.”
The movant said Peralta’s opinion was shared by Justice Samuel Gaerlan who stated: “his Court has consistently recognized the existence of annulment of elections as a remedy available to a losing candidate if it be alleged that an election is tainted with irregularities and frauds so numerous and so undeniably characteristic of an intention to defraud and defeat the true expression of the will of the electorate.”
Last February 16, 2021, the PET voted on the Leonen ruling but released their decision more than a month later on 19 April 2021.
“What is at stake here is the second highest position in the country.
This is not something to be taken lightly. To dismiss such an important election protest because of the absence of procedural rules” is an affront to our Constitutional right of due process,” Marcos told the SC magistrates.
According to Marcos, technicalities should not be a bar to the determination of the people’s will.
Marcos argued that the PET erred in not considering the annulment of election results as an independent distinct and separate cause of action, which can proceed on its own despite the dismissal of his second cause of action for judicial revision and recounting of ballots.
“As we all know, the power of PET is plenary, the Third Cause of Action, like annulment should not be taken lightly, even if there are no rules. We are talking about the second highest position in the country and the will of the electorate must be heard,” Marcos stated.
"Rules are just secondary since what is important is the will of the electorate,” he said “This is what democracy is all about: upholding the sovereignty of the people. The best way to remove any doubt regarding the legitimacy of any candidate is for the case to proceed.”
“We owe it to the more than 14 million Filipinos who voted for Vice Presidential candidate Marcos and more so to the millions more whose votes went missing or were not duly counted to pursue this fight to the very end. When all is said and done, the true will of the electorate should be heard,” he added.
In its ruling, the PET held that Marcos' election protest appeared “bare, laden with generic and repetitious allegations, and lack information as to the time, place, and manner” of the alleged irregularities.
In his election protest case, Marcos identified three pilot provinces as Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Vice President Leni Robredo’s home province Camarines Sur.
However, the PET said Marcos failed to make out his case after the revision and appreciation of votes in the 5,415 clustered precincts, showed Robredo got 14,436,337 while the protestee Marcos received 14,157,771. This showed that Robredo even increased her lead over Marcos from 263,473 votes to 278,566 votes in these three provinces.