By Hector Lawas | Journal Online
COMELEC, OSG: ‘PET can annul Mindanao votes’
FORMER senator Ferdinand “Bongbong’ Marcos II yesterday expressed optimism that his electoral protest against the supposed victory of Vice- President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will end very soon as the question on the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) exclusive role in the case has been clearly established.
Marcos’ belief for a faster action by the PET came on the heels after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) recently told Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to annul the votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao as guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution and even by PET’s own rules on electoral protests in the presidential and vice – presidential elections.
Marcos filed his case before the SC on June 2016. His lawyer, Atty. Vic Rodriguez said, there is “no more excuse for Justice Leonen to evade a clear judicial function provided for by the Constitution, which as a sole judge “to hear all cases involving the election, returns and qualifications of the President and the Vice – President” (Article 7, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution).
On paragraph 37 of Comelec’s comment, the poll body said “it is crystal clear that PET is empowered by the Constitution to declare annulment of elections without special election”. OSG pointed out that the special election is not within PET’s authority and jurisdiction since it is under Comelec’s turf.
With these extremely clear legal positions, Rodriguez concluded that Justice Leonen took some time for ordering the OSG and the Comelec to file their respective positions on PET’s role in the Marcos’s case that covers even three provinces in Mindanao where rampant election fraud took place.
Rodriguez’s observation can be validated within SC’s turf. One is the OSG’s position that reminded Justice Leonen that the PET has its own rules about complaints on the election fraud in both presidential and vice – presidential polls which was approved by all members of the PET on 2010.
PET Rule stressed its legal right and power over complaints of fraudulent elections.
Second was OSG also informed Justice Leonon that he himself knew very well PET’s excusive and sole role as a judge in presidential and vice – presidential election protest.
“Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, in his Separate Opinion in Rivera v. Comelec, upheld the exclusive nature of the PET’s jurisdiction over election contests involving the President and Vice President…” OSG furthered argued.
Rodriguez, however, clarified that while Marcos got some fresh air for a faster resolution on his more than 4-year-old case against Robredo, his client’s belief can only be done if Justice Leonen will inhibit from being the ponente of the case.
He reiterated his previous statement that “if there is still a minuscule of respect for the Supreme Court left in him, Justice Leonen must now inhibit and rescue from handling this case to spare the entire Court and his colleagues from further embarrassment” from the public.
Leonen became the ponente on October 29 last year after Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the former ponente, retired on the same month.
Caguiao’s ponente that dismisses the Marcos case was rejected by the 12 members of the PET. Only former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio sided with Caguioa.
Justice Leonen was appointed to the SC on November 29, 2012 by then President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III following the former’s supposed “positive achievement” as chief negotiator of the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to achieve peace in Mindanao.
Rodriguez clearly explained that “the matter of failure of elections is irrelevant for us because we never sought for that relief because we understand the law and jurisprudence. What we have been asking is for the annulment of elections which is purely a judicial function”.
“With the comment of both Comelec and the OSG, it has defanged the justice in charge of any more delaying tricks on his hat. We can now look forward to the PET’s immediate action on the Annulment of Elections which would give Sen. Bongbong Marcos a lead of more or less 45,000 votes over Mrs. Robredo,” Rodriguez pointed out.
This scenario will “move closer to [Marcos] proclamation, [Marcos was the] real, lawful and genuine winner for the vice – president”, Rodriguez added.