Business World – VP case drags on as SC orders recount release

By Business World

THE SUPREME Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on Tuesday, has again deferred a decision on the election protest over the vice presidential post, instead ordering a release of the report on the initial result of recount of ballots.

The report, submitted by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa last month, is to be released to Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo and Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who filed the case.

SC Public Information Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka said the parties were also ordered to comment on the report involving the recount of ballots in the three pilot provinces chosen by Mr. Marcos, namely: Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Oriental.

“The Tribunal likewise required the parties to submit a memoranda on the various issues relating to the jurisdiction and other matters relating to the third cause of action, which is the annulment of election results for Vice President in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, within a period of 20 days from the receipt of the notice,” Mr. Hosaka said.

He also confirmed that the case remains on status quo “because there are no resolution on cause of action No. 2 and 3. So, we should just wait for the comments to be submitted by the parties as well as the memoranda being required to be submitted on third cause of action.”

Mr. Caguioa and Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio reportedly dissented in the PET ruling, but Mr. Hosaka declined to comment on this saying he has not seen their dissenting opinions.

Ms. Robredo’s legal counsel, Romulo B. Macalintal, said if the third cause of action is approved, it would be tantamount to a “fishing expedition.”

“You are fishing for evidence,” he told reporters.

On Monday, Ms. Robredo filed a manifestation asking the court to uphold the PET’s Rule 65 in resolving the electoral protest. Under the rule, the protest will be dismissed if Mr. Marcos fails to make substantial recovery in the three pilot provinces.

“We would still insist that the petition, the protest of Mr. Marcos should be dismissed because on the basis of the Caguioa report, on the basis of the revision reports that we have, there is no substantial discovery proven by Mr. Marcos in his election protest,” Mr. Macalintal said.

Ms. Robredo, meanwhile, said she is “half-relieved” by the latest development on the case.

“Relieved because isasapubliko ‘yung committee report (the report will be made public),” she said in a press conference at her office in Quezon City.

“Pero (But) frustrated na hindi pa rin na-dismiss kasi ang paniniwala namin (that it still has not been dismissed because) there is no other way than to dismiss considering their own rules and the results of the recount,” she said.

On the other hand, Mr. Marcos’s spokesperson, Victor D. Rodriguez, said they welcome the PET’s latest ruling.

“The directive to file our memoranda in relation to our second cause of action is likewise a positive development because finally, for the first time after three years we shall now deal with the issues on the annulment of the election results in the province of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao,” he said in a mobile phone message. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas with a report from Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

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