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

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020   •   279

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)

81,888 PDLs released during COVID-19 pandemic — SC

Marje Pelayo   •   October 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has noted the use of technology, specifically video conferencing, in expediting the cases of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) even amidst the prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During Friday’s (October 23) ‘CJ Meets the Press’ briefing, Peralta reported that from March to October this year, a total of 81,888 PDLs had their cases resolved and been granted freedom.

The Chief Justice added that the majority of the more than 110,000 cases that they have deliberated on virtually were criminal cases.

The proceedings yielded 88% success rate and only 12% failed due to poor or intermittent Internet connection.

According to CJ Peralta, several PDLs were granted a reduced bail, particularly the indigent ones, to qualify for release while reading of sentence to minors was temporarily suspended.

“Napag-aralan namin na kakaunti lang makapag apply ng bail dahil karamihan dito ay mga indigent,” Peralta explained.

The decision to expedite the release of PDLs was to decongest jail facilities across the country where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is high.

Because at that time we felt na yung COVID-19 ay nag-i-spread na sa mga jails, not only in BJMP jails but also in provincial jails, municipal jails and detention centers ng ating mga pulis,” the official noted.

Of more than 28,000 employees of the Judiciary, 252 contracted COVID-19 which is only 1% of the government branch’s total employee population.

Meanwhile, Peralta said the Supreme Court is now looking into the delays in the processing of cases of more than 1,700 detained quarantine violators.

The Chief Justice stressed these violators shouldn’t stay long in detention as they can be released by just paying a penalty or fine. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Supreme Court Chief Justice Peralta wants probe on ambush of CamSur Judge

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has called on law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate and arrest those behind the attack on a Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court judge and her aide that left them injured.

“I strongly condemn the recent attack on Judge Jeaneth Gaminde-San Joaquin of Libmanan, Camarines Sur and her companion. I urge all law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are apprehended,” Peralta said in a statement posted on Twitter.  

“An attack on our judges is an assault on the Rule of Law. This has no place in a civilized society like ours,” he stressed.

An initial police report showed that Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge San Joaquin and a member of her staff, Rocelle Martinez were aboard their vehicle going to Naga City when they were attack by two unidentified gunmen.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 20 in Barangay Puro Batia in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.

The two sustained injuries and were taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

Duterte appoints CA Justice Rosario to Supreme Court

Robie de Guzman   •   October 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Court of Appeals magistrate Ricardo Rosario has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte signed Rosario’s appointment paper on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Rosario will fill out the vacancy created by the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Jose Reyes last Sept. 18.

“As the newest member of the High Court, we are confident that Justice Rosario would advocate judicial independence, uphold the rule of law, and continue the reforms in our court processes,” Roque said.

“We wish Justice Rosario all the best in his new assignment at the SC,” he added.

Rosario obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1983 and passed the Bar examinations in 1984.

He worked as a judge at the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court and then moved to Makati Regional Trial Court. He was later appointed to the Court of Appeals.

Rosario, who will turn 62 on Oct. 15, will have 8 years to serve in the high court until his retirement at the age of 70.

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