By Beting Laygo Dolor, Contributing Editor
The Supreme Court (SC) last week warned the camps of former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and Vice-president Leni Robredo to end their renewed word war over the former’s electoral protest.
Acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), the SC has been reviewing the case filed by the son and namesake of the late dictator, who lost to Robredo in a tightly contested vice–presidential race in 2016.
The Marcos camp asked Chief Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit himself from the proceedings, allegedly due to his biased views against the former senator. Leonen issued a dissenting opinion to the burial of the late president Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
Leonen had also worked for the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III in various capacities. Robredo was elected VP under the Liberal Party, headed by Aquino.
The Robredo camp countered by saying that following Marcos’s logic, then all SC justices should inhibit themselves from the electoral protest case. They reasoned that 10 of the 14 justices of the high tribunal were appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who considers the Marcos family as his allies.
The exchange of words led the SC to warn both camps to observe the gag order on the case, or else face penalties.
According to Robredo’s lawyers, “To follow the logic of protestant Marcos would result to an absurdity if not inhibition of most, if not all, the members of the Honorable tribunal.”
Observers noted that Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida took the cudgels for Marcos, even seeking the impeachment of the chief justice for his failure to submit his Statement of Assets and Liabilities.
Calida had also lawyered for the Marcoses prior to his appointment as SolGen.
Calida accused the chief justice of delaying the resolution of the electoral protest until it becomes moot and academic, as the next elections will be held two years from now.
The SC’s gag order was issued back in February of 2018. The order prohibits both parties from publicly discussing the merits of the case while it is pending in court.
One month later, the Tribunal issued another resolution reminding the two camps to observe the sub judice rule, which repeated the public discussion of any case.
In its latest warning, the PET said any further violation “shall be dealt with more severely.”
The warning said, “In view of the recent appearances and statements of the parties, their counsels and their agents in various media outlets including print, broadcast, and social media, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal reiterates its resolution dated Feb. 13, 2018 and March 20, 2018 directing the parties to strictly observe the sub judice rule.”
The body said, “these are not the proper venues to litigate their case.”
Marcos stated earlier this year that he plans to run for a “national position” in 2022 but did not specify which post.
Robredo is generally considered the frontrunner to be the opposition’s presidential standard bearer in the next elections.
Marcos accused Robredo of cheating in their 2016 face–off. The court allowed him to prove his claim by choosing three provinces where the cheating allegedly occurred.
After a recount was ordered, it was found that it was Robredo who had actually been deprived of hundreds of votes.
The Commission on Elections had also determined that there was no failure of elections in the areas cited by Marcos. An initial recount by the PET also determined that Robredo had indeed beaten Marcos
In reiterating the cheating claim, Robredo publicly addressed Marcos, telling her opponent, “You were not cheated, you were defeated.”