Manila Standard : Marcos vows fight to continue after SC junks poll protest

News & Interviews
21 April 2021

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday vowed to pursue his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo after the Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, officially released its February 16, 2021 decision dismissing his poll protest.

Marcos, son of the former president whose name he carries, said the PET’s ruling set a bad precedent and trampled upon the “true will of the electorates” in the 2016 vice presidential election.

“So long as there is a ray of hope, I will continue to fight. I owe this to the more than 14 million loyalists who voted for me. I owe this to our youth who will be casting their ballots in 2022,” Marcos said in a statement.

“At the end of the day, the true will of the electorate must prevail,” he added.

The former senator made the statement after the PET finally released on Monday its February 16, 2021 decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the justice-in-charge of the case, dismissing the election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo for lack of merit.

“I read the 92-page decision penned by Justice Leonen and it is unfortunate that he dismissed my election case without even allowing us to present proof about the massive cheating that occurred in Mindanao. In effect, what was supposed to be a separate, distinct and independent cause of action was rejected because of a plethora of rules,” Marcos lamented.

“Indeed, it is regrettable that the Justice-in-charge viewed the case with extreme partiality through his yellow lenses,” Marcos said, obviously a diatribe against Leonen who has been associated with former President Benigno Aquino III for being the Aquino administration’s chief peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front prior to his appointment as magistrate of the Supreme Court.

Leonen is now facing impeachment before the House of Representatives for the delay in the resolution of cases assigned to him.

Marcos argued that the PET should not have dismissed his poll protest against Robredo because he still has pending third cause of action which seeks for the annulment of the election in the three provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan in the 2016 elections on the ground of terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters and pre-shading of ballots.

“The power of PET is plenary. The third cause of action, like annulment, should not pose a problem even in the absence of rules because the will of the electorate is of paramount importance. When asked for their opinion regarding election rules, both the Commission of Election [COMELEC] and the Office of the Solicitor General [OSG] were one in saying: what is important in any election is that the will of the people is paramount,” Marcos stressed.

According to the former senator, the existence or non-existence of procedural rules should not be an obstacle in knowing the true will of the people.

“Rules are just secondary in nature. What is important is the true will of the electorate,” he said, adding that “the PET should do everything in its power to ascertain who really won as Vice President.”

Marcos said the truth should not be limited to the existence or non-existence of the Rules on Annulment “because at the end of the day, it will be the people themselves who will be deprived of ascertaining who the real victor in the 2016 elections were.”

The former senator asked that if the PET was going to dismiss his election protest without hearing all the evidence, “then why didn’t it dismiss our third cause of action from day 1?”

“Instead they made us pay 66 million pesos for the protest . . . made us wait for almost 5 years . . . made us believe that the annulment was a separate, distinct and independent cause of action -- only to decide the case without affording us due process?” Marcos lamented.

“This is a very bad precedent because in the future, no one in their right mind would dare question the results of an election. It is an expensive and time consuming exercise,” he said.

Last February, the PET dismissed the “entire” electoral protest filed by Marcos against Robredo challenging the validity of the latter’s proclamation as the duly elected vice president in the 2016 polls.

“The 15 members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal unanimously dismissed the entire electoral protest,” Hosaka said, citing the dispositive portion of the PET’s decision.

“Wherefore, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal dismisses the election protest filed by protestant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for lack of merit,” the PET declared.

The PET also dismissed the counter-protest filed by Robredo against Robredo.

The electoral tribunal’s decision came just few months after Leonen, the justice assigned to the case, denied the petition for inhibition filed by Marcos camp who accused him of being biased and intentionally delaying the resolution of the case so that it would end up moot and academic considering that the filing for candidacies in the 2022 national elections is already near.

The Comelec declared Robredo as the winner in the vice presidential race in the 2016 election after she got 14,418,817 votes, which is 263,473 votes more than the 14,155,344 votes received by Marcos.

Marcos filed an election protest on June 29, 2016 , claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May also year.