By Julius Leonen
and Joyce Rocamora
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss Vice President Leni Robredo’s counter-protest for her failure to pay the required P8-million installment to cover the expenses in the vote recount process.
In an eight-page Omnibus Motion filed yesterday, Marcos, through his counsel , George Erwin Garcia, said they are moving for the immediate dismissal of Robredo’s counter-protest for having failed to pay the first installment of P8 million cash deposit from Robredo when the deadline the court gave fell due.
Vice President Robredo now says that she will pay for the initial sum of some P8 million for her counter-protest, although earlier, sheand her counsel, Romulo Makalintal stated, shortly after news came out that Marcos had paid the initial installment demanded by the SC on deadline time, claimed that this the initial amount of P8 million will be paid by Robredo only after the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) resolves her motion on the required fees asked of her by the body for her counter-protest.
But Marcos’ lawyer Garcia pointed out that under Rule 34 of the 2010 PET, “if a party fails to make the cash deposits or additional deposits herein required within the prescribed time limit, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest or counter-protest, or take such action as it may deem equitable under the circumstances.”
To recall, the SC, sitting as the PET, required Marcos to pay P66.2-million to proceed with the election protest while Robredo was ordered to pay P15.43-million. They were allowed to pay on installment basis.
The payments, which will total P81-million, is intended for the retrieval of the contested ballot boxes and election documents for 36,465 clustered precincts, totaling 132,446 precincts, contested by Marcos’ camp.
Marcos personally went to the SC to pay the first installment of P36-million on Monday, while Robredo failed to pay her first required cash deposit of P8-million within the prescribed time limit.
Robredo, through her lawyers, instead filed a Manifestation with Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion for clarification, and a Reconsideration of the Resolution dated March 21, 2017.
Garcia said that filing an Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion “cannot excuse Robredo from the payment of the required cash deposit since the same is obviously dilatory.”
“Robredo’s intention to further delay the proceedings in this case is evident from the arguments raised in her latest submission,” Garcia said.
“Protestant Marcos finds it quite ironic that Robredo would ask for the deferment of the payment of her cash deposit even though she had already expressed her conformity and willingness to pay the same in her Manifestation with Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion,” he said.
Garcia then stressed that the SC has exclusive control and supervision of all matters pertaining to the election protest and counter-protest, including the computation of the cash deposit.
“Hence, it is inappropriate for Robredo to question this Honorable Tribunal’s wisdom and discretion with respect to the computation of the cash deposit required to be paid by the protestant,” Garcia said.
In his electoral protest, Marcos contested the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts.
Marcos prayed in his protest for the manual count and judicial revisions for 36,465 precincts, while he prayed for the annulment of election results for the remaining 2,756.
Marcos’ camp had filed an electoral protest against Robredo following results of the 2016 National Elections. He alleged that there had been a series of frauds, anomalies and irregularities perpetrated during the May 9 elections.
Robredo won the 2016 vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes over Marcos who won 14,155,344 votes.
Marcos lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes.
Leni’s camp’s version
Signifying exhaustion from the repeated criticisms of the former senator against the sitting Vice President, the latter’s lawyer yesterday urged the losing vice presidential bet to leave the issue’s resolution on “failure” to pay required fee to the hands of the Supreme Court sitting as the PET.
Through the support of his “family and friends”, Marcos was able to produce P36 million for the first installment of his part.
Robredo, on the other hand, repeatedly has stressed the need for Marcos’ protest to proceed and conclude first before she pays for her part.
Makalintal, lead election lawyer of Robredo said “if the PET decides we should pay now, we will make the necessary payment.”
However, there is a pending motion from their end which was filed last Wednesday and has already explained why they requested for a clarification, he said.
“As to the timing of the payment for the counter protest, the camp of Robredo said it could be done if and when Mr. Marcos has already established his case as protestant. “We will wait for the PET to resolve the matter,” he said.
In the manifestation filed on April 12, Robredo, through her lawyers asked the SC to hold in abeyance the fee required from their party.
The official cited that until the legitimacy of the merits of the former senator’s protest has been established, they will delay the payment.
They also sought clarification on the fees Marcos must settle.
In the manifestation, Makalintal argued that the former senator must pay for a total of P185 million instead of P66 million since his protest has a first cause of action.
The so called first cause of action includes all 92,000 clustered precincts that consisted of at least 369,138 established precincts, doubled by P500, it accounts to Robredo’s suggested fee of P185 million.