MANILA, Philippines — The president’s spokesman on Tuesday said the Office of the Solicitor General’s motion for Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s inhibition from the vice presidential poll protest case “had to be filed” for the benefit of the Filipino people.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a separate motion to the Supreme Court, as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, for Leonen’s inhibition. He raised almost the same arguments cited by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s pleading submitted to the SC just hours earlier on Monday.
In a briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that under the law that created the OSG, they served as legal counsels for the people. “I suppose the motion had to be filed because it is the interest of our people to know who really won in the elections for the vice president,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Let’s just say that the matter of inhibition is now left not just to Justice Leonen but to the court itself,” he added.
Calida in his motion invoked his office’s mandate as “Tribune of the People” in filing the motion to exclude Leonen, reportedly member-in-charge of the case, from the proceedings. “The Filipino electorate has been on edge as regards the real winner in the elections for Vice President,” he said.
This is not the first time that Calida filed a pleading related to the poll protest that favors Marcos. A lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo questioned why Calida is siding with Marcos, who lost in the elections and “not with the winner if he is truly the tribune of the people.”
Asked if the Palace sees any impropriety with the solicitor general, who campaigned for Marcos in 2016, filing a pleading that asks the same prayer with the losing vice presidential candidate, Roque stressed that Calida serves as counsel for the government.
“As statutory counsel, he has an interest in knowing who legally won in the vice presidential election or we have an interest as a nation if there is merit in fact in the election protest,” Roque added.
Marcos had denied that he was in communication with Calida in his poll protest against Robredo, but he surmised that as solicitor general, Calida can aquire a copy of their motion. “Maybe he adopted some of the elements that were in our motion,” Marcos said earlier Tuesday.
The Palace spokesman also said that Duterte was not informed before Calida filed the motion, saying that the president does not micromanage and lets his Cabinet members handle matters in their agencies.
Roque, also responding to a reporter’s question, also said there is no meeting set between the president and Marcos in the schedule that he has seen, but added he would clarify with the Appointments Office. — Kristine Joy Patag