PET orders Comelec, SolGen to comment on Robredo-Marcos poll protest

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020   •   525

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on the bid of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to nullify the election results in three provinces in Mindanao.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the PET ordered the Comelec to submit in 20 days its comment on issues related to annulment of elections in connection with Marcos’ third cause of action in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, which is the annulment of election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao due to alleged terrorism, intimidation, voter harassment and pre-shading of ballots.

The tribunal also directed the poll body and the OSG to comment on whether the PET has the power to declare the annulment of elections without special elections; and the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections.

The PET likewise asked the Comelec and the OSG whether the tribunal’s declaration of failure of elections, and an order for special elections, will violate the poll body’s mandate under the constitution.

The tribunal also ordered the poll body to report to the justices if petitions for failure of elections were filed in the three Mindanao provinces; if the petitions were granted or denied and if special elections were held in the said areas, and the results of these special elections.

It likewise directed that the Comelec and the OSG be furnished copies of its Oct. 15, 2019 resolution and of the separate memoranda submitted by camps of Robredo and Marcos on the said resolution.

In a statement, Robredo’s camp welcomed the development, saying it will help fast-track the resolution of the election protest.

“We will comply with the High Tribunal’s order and wait for the comments of the Commission on Elections and the Solicitor General on the pending matters,” said lawyer Beng Sardillo, Robredo’s counsel.

“We fully believe that the High Tribunal will uphold Vice President Leni Robredo’s victory as seen in the 2016 results and in the recount of ballots. In 2016, our lead was 263,473 votes. And after the recount, our lead increased to 278,566 votes,” Sardillo added.

Marcos’ camp, on the other hand, views the order “with extreme reservation,” as it added “another layer that would cause tremendous delay” in referring the matter to Comelec and the OSG.

Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez said their protest is under real threat of becoming moot and academic because there is a very thin time left in the term of the contested position.

“May threat na po ang aming election protest na maging moot and academic sapagkat nariyan na po sa paligid ang events of 2022 (elections), nalalapit na po yung filing of candidacy nariyan na po yung campaign period and eventually the conduct of national election,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Duterte urges Filipinos to set aside differences as PH marks 35th EDSA anniversary

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called on Filipinos to ‘set aside differences and work together’ as the country marks the 35th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

The EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 was “inspired by the valor of those whose sacrifice made the liberties we enjoy today possible,” Duterte said in a message.

The president also urged Filipinos to remain vigilant in protecting their rights and the country’s democratic institutions.

“As we contemplate the relevance of this occasion, let is proceed with renewed hope and optimism towards the realization of our shared aspirations for our nation. May this serve as a constant reminder for all of us to remain vigilant in safeguarding our democratic institutions, preserving our values, and upholding our rights as Filipinos,” he said.

“Guided by the spirit of EDSA, let us set aside our differences and work together in building a legacy that we can proudly leave behind for future generations of Filipinos,” he added.

The EDSA People Power Revolution overthrew the government of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos and installed the late former President Corazon Aquino to the presidency. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Oral arguments on Anti-Terrorism Law suspended, to resume on March 2

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Law has been moved to March 2.

In an advisory, the Supreme Court announced that several justices are undergoing self-quarantine as a safety precaution against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to a source, one of the justices tested positive for COVID-19.

The en banc session set for Tuesday (February 23) is also suspended.

Meanwhile, petitioners want to raise new developments to the SC regarding their request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

One of the petitioners’ lawyers, Atty. Edcel Lagman said they want to include the alleged ‘red-tagging’ of one of the generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“For the first time in history petitioners and their counsel before this honorable court are seriously threatened with persecution under the challenged statute by no less than military general who is part of the state enforcing the controverted ATA,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Marcos can still appeal PET decision on poll protest vs Robredo — CJ Peralta

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. can still file a motion for reconsideration on the decision of the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said.

Peralta said Marcos may still appeal the decision as part of his legal remedies.

The camp of Marcos earlier said it has yet to decide on whether to file a motion pending the release of the copy of the ruling.

Peralta said the copy of the decision has yet to become available for the public as they are still awaiting other magistrates to submit their written opinions on the matter.

“We are still waiting for the others who might explain their votes because if it is in the result the effect is that those who voted in the result should have explain their votes that’s the rule,” the chief justice told reporters.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously junked the election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo over the results of the 2016 vice presidential race.

The SC said seven of the 15 justices present during the meeting “fully concurred” in the dismissal while the rest “concurred” in the result.

Peralta has refused to elaborate on the reasons for the dismissal citing confidentiality of court deliberations.

“That I cannot divulge, the deliberation is confidential. What can I only say is that as usual there was deliberation, there were debates, there were several opinions raised but eventually as what the chief justice usually does is to call for a vote and that what happened,” he said.

When asked about the possible effect on the protest should Marcos push through with his plan to run for public office in the 2022 elections, Peralta replied with: “That’s another question. That’s not tackled in our deliberation.”

“If he wants to run then that’s his choice. As to whether or not that will abandon his protest, that’s another thing,” he added. RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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