Majority of SC justices expected to vote AGAINST Caguioa’s ponencia favoring Robredo

Monday October 07, 2019 ()

Majority of Supreme Court (SC) justices are poised to junk the draft ruling of Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa dismissing the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, sources said.

Marcos protest

The high court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is set to tackle the case Tuesday, October 8. The magistrates are expected to vote on Caguioa’s ponencia during the en banc session.

Unimpeachable sources told The Manila Times that nine to 11 magistrates out of the 14 justices are expected to vote against the Caguioa draft ruling.

There are only 14 justices because Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza retired last month.

The voting comes days before the retirement of Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Sources said the justices would vote on whether or not the election protest case should be dismissed outright or if it should be pursued further to determine if fraud marred the vice presidential election in 2016.

Caguioa’s 54-page draft ruling recommended the dismissal of the case for lack of merit, sources said. They added that two justices — Carpio and Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen — were inclined to side with Caguioa.

The sources said “an overwhelming majority” of the justices wants the case to proceed to the next level — the reception of evidence to determine if there was electoral fraud in the vice presidential contest.

If most of the Supreme Court justices will vote against the Caguioa draft, a source said the next step would be the reception of evidence for the annulment of election results in Basilan, Sulu and Lanao del Sur. This process would be separate from the revision of ballots held by the tribunal.

Robredo would be given the chance to proceed with the revision of her pilot provinces for her counter protest, the source explained.

The source said several justices had manifested their disagreement with the draft ponencia. He said Caguioa’s draft ruling was anchored on the issue of the first cause of action, referring to the revision of ballots in the three pilot provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Camarines Sur, where Robredo won.

The source said Caguioa’s draft ruling upheld the proclamation of Robredo as vice president.

In his poll protest, Marcos assailed the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts.

The former senator lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes. He accused her of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as preshading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote counting machines, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes.

On Monday, the Marcos camp slammed Robredo and her allies for pre-empting the Supreme Court ruling and celebrating in front of the high court by declaring that Robredo would be the victor in the PET recount.

Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez claimed that Robredo and her supporters “are making a mockery of the justice system.”

“As early as September 10, when it was initially made public that a decision is forthcoming, supporters of Mrs. Robredo already gathered outside of the Supreme Court in such a celebratory mood and proclaiming victory complete with leaflets depicting figures alleged to have been sourced from a draft decision,” he said in a statement.

“Mrs. Robredo and her cabal should refrain from making a mockery of the legal process, accord the Presidential Electoral Tribunal the highest respect, cease bullying the honorable justices and stop deceiving the Filipino by requesting from the high court, through a preposterous motion, copy of something that she already has,” Rodriguez added.

Robredo’s camp, however, said she would keep her post regardless of the result of the Supreme Court voting.

Robredo’s lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo said the result of the voting would “put to rest the speculations.”

In a motion filed on Monday, Robredo’s lawyers asked the high court to furnish them a copy of the report on the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

“Even if we have our own copy of these revision reports, these files are for our own safekeeping. The official tally will come from the revision committees and will be given to Justice Caguioa. Justice Caguioa, on the other hand, will file this before the PET and will come up with a recommendation based on the given report,” Macalintal told reporters.

The committee report would also serve as basis for Robredo’s camp to issue evidence in case the PET would rule against them.

Macalintal stressed that it is “mandatory” for the tribunal to follow Rule 65, which states that a “substantial recovery” must be seen in the initial recount in order for the case to proceed.

“If the PET does not follow that… the initial determination principle of the case will not be upheld and this will lead to an anomaly for those who will file an election protest in the future. We’ll ask then, why will PET not follow the rules which they set in the first place?” he added.

Sources:

  • SC to junk ruling favoring Robredo, Jomar Canlas, October 8, 2019, The Manila Times


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