Manila Standard - Tossing back the responsibility to the SC en banc

11 October 2019

By Rod Kapunan | Manila Standard

"Once again, demagoguery has triumphed over our democratic process."

Indeed, there is a sinister move to further delay the decision rendered by that shameless classmate of B.S Aquino in the most desperate attempt to throw out the petition by sheer technicality. This we have to state because the decision to postpone made by the Supreme Court on the draft decision made by the chairman of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal already amounts to maliciously vexing the rightful cause of the petitioner.

According to sources, the overwhelming majority of the justices want to pursue the case, which is to proceed to the reception of evidence to determine if there was an electoral fraud in the vice presidential contest referring to the 263,473 votes assailed in the election results in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental. “The reception of evidence is to determine if there was an actual electoral fraud in the vice presidential contest.”

To postpone the decision is to reward that tardy classmate for coming out a much-delayed draft that took him more than three years to draft, only to be thrown into the wastebasket. Section 15, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution already gives the Supreme Court 24 months to decide after a decision was submitted by the PET under Batas Pambansa Blg. 884 or “An Act Constituting an Independent Presidential Electoral Tribunal to Try, Hear and Decide Election Contests in the Office of the President and Vice President of the Philippines. Section 4 of Blg. 884 states to quote: SEC. 4. The Tribunal must decide the contest within 12 months after it is filed. X x x No motion shall be entertained for the opening of a case but only for the reconsideration of a decision based on the evidence already of record. No party may file more than one motion for reconsideration, copy of which shall be served upon the adverse party who shall answer it within five days after the receipt thereof. Any petition for reconsideration must be resolved within 10 days after it is submitted for resolution. X x x SEC. 5. In case the protestant is declared the winner, he shall assume office by taking his oath in accordance with the Constitution as soon as the judgment has become final.

This laggard classmate of B.S. Aquino grossly violated the privileges accorded by law. The 12 months accorded to PET to decide already exceeded three years. This shameless classmate is so cocky that to dismiss the case, he expects the petitioner to appeal to the High Court proper to reverse his shoddy decision for violating of Section 15, Article VIII if the Constitution, to quote: “… No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.”

The shameless classmate put the entire collegial body in a bind to further delay the decision by forcing the majority of the members to conduct their own examination to prove the claim of fraud when that aspect should have been done by the PET. Effectively, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the anomalous strategy of the classmate to set aside his shoddy decision they suspect was rigged and was wantonly biased. For that, they can no longer point the blame on him much that it was premeditated as a trap by his submission of the draft decision by the nick of time to prevent the case from becoming moot and academic.

If the justices opted to proceed with the reception of evidence, necessarily it would require time to examine the case. Rather, Caguioa cockily induced his colleagues to contest his shoddy draft to wisely cover the truth that his principal motive was to delay the case by all conceivable technicalities. His motive was to mire the petition into receiving evidence of fraud he purposely omitted. It was in that predicament why the justices have to set aside the shoddy draft because the Court is under obligation to make a decision based on evidence.

On the other hand, to affirm the dismissal of the petition is to reward the classmate by delaying further the petition until such time when the period to decide would finally lapse to render the office sought for functus oficio. In effect, the Supreme Court will bear the brunt for dismissing or delaying in coming out a decision in violation its own rules. Invariably, it would have the effect of absolving the classmate because the court was given not enough time to decide on the merits of the petition.

To repeat, when courts demand special fee called protest fee from protesting candidates for a recount of the election result, the court is under obligation to conduct a recount unless there are obvious and palpable reasons to deny the petition as frivolous. The protest fee partakes of a commitment to do its work in the name of upholding the sacredness of our democratic electoral system. The fee may be costly because it imposes upon the court a burden to make a recount, and courts cannot do away with that assignment like dismissing the petition as in other cases.

This explains why the protest free posted by Bongbong Marcos of P36 million is non-refundable because a recount is a service done by the court. Otherwise, protest free becomes an extortionary process to deter anybody who felt aggrieved by electoral cheating. On the other hand, if Robredo, as respondent, loses the case, she has to return all the emoluments, allowances and salaries she received for styling herself as vice president. Such does not imply her direct involvement in the commission of fraud but is unavoidable because she is the direct beneficiary of that fraud. Otherwise, such would constitute an illegal disbursement of fund.

Should that day come when the period to render a decision lapses by inaction, the court cannot declare respondent guilty of electoral fraud. Robredo can trot around as the resurrected icon of democracy and freedom. The classmate can shout to high heavens for saving the entire Filipino electorate by his legal prowess of circumventing the law—which allowed her to win as vice president fraudulently by technicality. Gullible Filipinos will be lured by propaganda to believing that indeed she won the vice presidency. In the end, she could become a towering political challenger against the administration, and this is the tipping point why the yellows want her to win at all costs.

Her resurrected popularity will soar to gloss over all her fraudulent past, to be remembered this time as the champion of our faith and honesty primed to become the next president in this God-forsaken land of ours.

The justices will start seeking to get the favor by political patronage of bowing to one who conceived the greatest electoral perfidy of our time. Since our judicial system can be swayed by their political loyalty to one in power, it is predicted that the present government would find it more difficult to gain the support of people because their decision could be translated to one of leverage to be identified to one in political power. Once again, demagoguery has triumphed over our democratic process.