Business World – Marcos wants Caguioa inhibited from poll protest, claims bias

By Business World

FORMER SENATOR Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. filed on Monday an “extremely urgent motion to inhibit Supreme Court Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, citing “his wife’s undeniably close ties with former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. and Ms. (Maria Leonor G.) Leni Robredo.”

Also on Monday, a spokesperson of the Commission on Elections said the poll body stands by the results of the 2016 elections. Mr. Marcos ran for vice-president that year and lost to Ms. Robredo in the official count now subject to his electoral protest before the SC as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

According to Mr. Marcos, Mr. Caguioa’s wife, Pier Angela, “was not only an anti-Marcos advocate but was also an ardent supporter of Robredo, having actively campaigned for her during the May 2016 elections.”

He cited “online messages of Caguioa’s wife in her Viber group,” as also posted on Facebook, and quoted one such message by her as saying, “(i)f BBM (Bongbong Marcos) wins and if he wins because of the youth, it’ll be [the] failure of our generation. We were the main catalysts of Edsa 1 and yet we failed to impart its lessons upon the generation that followed us.”

A statement from the former senator’s office also cited Mr. Marcos as pointing out that “while he was aware of Justice Caguioa’s fraternal bond with Noynoy Aquino because they were classmates from grade school, high school and college at the Ateneo De Manila University — a fact which led to Caguioa’s appointment to various top posts during Aquino’s Presidency, he tried to give Caguioa the benefit of the doubt. Despite the inordinate delays in his election protest, he tried to remain above the fray out of respect to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.”

“Given the evident bias, manifest partiality and blatant prejudice shown by Associate Justice Caguioa and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of Noynoy Aquino and protestee Robredo, the undersigned protestant is left with no other recourse but to file the instant Motion for the Inhibition pursuant to the mandate of Canons 3 and 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary,” Mr. Marcos said in the statement.

For his part, Comelec spokesperson James B. Jimenez told reporters, “The Comelec is standing by the results of the elections.”

Mr. Jimenez and Comelec Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino, Jr. testified on Monday before a joint congressional oversight committee reassessing the automated election system in light of the 2016 polls.

At the hearing, many representatives of polls watchdog groups and politicians raised irregularities observed in the conduct of the polls. Previous issues, such as the Comelec website hacking back in March 2016 and the discrepancy of data between the main and backup memory cards, were also discussed.

Mr. Tolentino assured that hackers would no longer be able to enter into the agency’s system now that the website is hosted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). He also reiterated that the hacking did not affect the results of the elections.

Claims were also made by lawyer Glenn Chong of the Tanggulang Demokrasya regarding the selling of voters’ information by an election officer to candidates in Maragondon, Cavite.

In response, Mr. Jimenez said the photos Mr. Chong showed to support the claims were merely an election officer showing the voter verification system of the agency.

“I think there may have been a misappreciation of what he had. He thought it was something else but it wasn’t. We’ll see what happens. We’ll check the allegation, we took notes and then we’ll find out,” he said.

He also addressed the other glitches that happened during the 2016 national elections, saying “If you go back to the record, you’ll know at every point, it was answered. It’s really a question of what people or what certain people will accept as a valid explanation. But again, if you look at the explanations of Comelec, it doesn’t change. As far as the Comelec is concerned, there is one set of facts and that’s what we’re sticking to,” he said.

For his part, Senator Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, said the Comelec still needs a lot of explaining to do, noting the pattern of “surprises” that occurred days before election day in the previous polls.

“There are a lot of occurrences that Comelec still need to explain. Some may be glitches but we still need explanation from Comelec. Why are these happening?” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez and Camille A. Aguinaldo

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