Manila Standard - Palace backs Calida’s action

11 November 2020

By Vito Barcelo and Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

• Says siding with Marcos on poll protest in the 'interest of the people' • SC issues gag order on Marcos and Robredo, warns them of contempt

Malacañang defended Solicitor General Jose Calida Tuesday, saying he acted in the “interest of our people” when he sided with former senator Ferdinand Marcos jr. in his poll protest against Vice President Leni Roredo.

Calida, who campaigned for Marcos in the 2016 elections, submitted a motion for inhibition against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Monday, Nov. 9.

“The motion had to be filed because it is the interest of our people to know who really won as vice president,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

“He is the statutory counsel for the government, and as statutory counsel, he has an interest in knowing who actually, who legally won in the vice presidential election,” Roque said.

“We have an interest as a nation to find out if there is merit in fact in that election protest,” he added.

Marcos claimed he and Calida had not discussed the election protest, even they both filed motions to have the Supreme Court compel Leonen to inhibit himself from hearing the case.

Like Marcos, the solicitor-general claimed that Leonen was biased against the Marcos family and acted deliberately to delay the case, which was filed four years ago, after Marcos lost to Robredo in 2016 by some 263,000 votes.

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Tuesday warned the Marcos and Robredo camps that they would be cited for contempt if they continue discussing the merits of the election protest in public, which would violate the sub judice rule.

“In view of the recent appearances and statements of the parties, their counsels and their agents in various media outlets including print, broadcast and social media, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal reiterates its resolutions dated Feb. 13, 2018 and March 20, 2018 directing the parties to strictly observe the sub judice rule. These are not the proper venues to litigate their case,” the Court said in a statement.

Calida defended his motion, saying it was in the “best interest of the state and the pople” to find out the truth about Marcos’ assertions that he lost in the vice presidential elections in 2016 due to the supposed rampant election fraud in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao provinces.

He added that people deserve a speedy resolution of the election protest.

In his motion, Calida questioned the “long delay” in the resolution of the case, saying this was “anathema to democracy as it disregards the sanctity of votes and the popular choice of the people.”

“The people needs [sic] to know who the actual winner is in the vice-presidential race. It is unfair for the sitting vice president to be accused of cheating, and equally unfair for the protestant to give him false hope in the guise of calculated yet very slow progress of the protest”, the chief state lawyer said.