The Manila Times – SC asked: Act on Marcos poll protest

The Manila Times 

The camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to act on his election protest amid a “well-funded and concerted” destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a 25-page comment/opposition to the motion for reconsideration filed by former Camarines Sur lawmaker and now Vice President Maria Leonor Rodredo on the tribunal’s resolution finding his election protest to be sufficient in form and substance, Marcos, through his lawyer George Edwin Garcia, asked the electoral tribunal to proceed with his case by setting it for preliminary conference and ordering the retrieval of ballot boxes so his case can finally move forward.

Garcia said it has been nine months since Marcos filed his protest and the tribunal is yet to schedule the preliminary conference.

In those nine months, he pointed out, destabilization efforts against the Duterte administration have been continuously waged.

“In those nine months, several plots on destabilizing the government have surfaced which are contrary to public interest. There is clearly a well-funded concerted effort to undermine the Duterte administration. Just recently, Robredo’s video message on the alleged extrajudicial killings caused quite a stir among our patriotic countrymen,” Garcia said in a statement.

According to the Marcos lawyer, the electoral tribunal “should not tolerate the duplicity of Robredo who has been insisting the she won the vice presidential race but has been opposing every move to prevent the truth from coming out.”

Garcia said, “Robredo cannot have it both ways. She cannot keep claiming that she won the elections fair and square and yet, behind everyone’s back, she keeps finding ways to stop the truth from coming out. The evidence of Marcos is probably the same evidence that Robredo has by now. If this is the case, one cannot help but wonder why she does not want the proceeding to move forward.”

In refuting Robredo’s claim that Marcos’ election protest should be dismissed because the latter failed to allege the sufficiency of his evidence on election fraud, Garcia said the issue of sufficiency in form and substance had been settled by the electoral tribunal “not just once but twice.”

“The sufficiency of the form, substance and content of the election protest filed by protestant Marcos was judiciously affirmed by this honorable tribunal in two instances already. First, when it resolved to issue the summons (dated 12 July 2016) against protestee Robredo, and second, when it denied the special and affirmative defenses of Robredo as contained in [a]resolution promulgated on January 24, 2017,” he noted.

Garcia said the ruling on sufficiency in form and substance has become final because Robredo did not move for a motion for reconsideration on a July 12, 2016 resolution of the tribunal in which it made a categorical declaration that Marcos’ election protest is sufficient in form and substance.

“It is now too late for protestee Robredo to question this finding because she did not move for the reconsideration of the pronouncement of honorable tribunal’s relevant to the sufficiency of this election protest. Hence, this finding is now final,” he stated.

Since the sufficiency in form and substance had already been settled twice, Garcia said, public interest dictates that the electoral tribunal should now set the case for preliminary conference to give way to the reception of evidence, the reopening of the ballot boxes and the manual recount, judicial revision, technical examination and forensic investigation of the paper ballots and/or the ballot images and other paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections.

“The term of an elective office is short. There is the contestants’ personal stake which generates feuds and discords. Above all is the public interest. A title to public elective office must not be left long under a cloud. The efficiency of public administration should not be impaired [by delays],” according to the Marcos lawyer.
Ultimately the issue in Marcos’ protest is quite simple, Garcia said.

“The issue here is simple: Do we want the truth to come out or not? More than nine months have already gone by and all protestee Robredo has done is to file one dilatory motion after another. If [Robredo] has nothing to hide, then she should do everything in her power to encourage, rather than hinder this election protest to move forward. The millions of voters who trooped to the polls nine months ago deserve no less. They want the truth to come out. The sooner the better,” the lawyer added.

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