The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has directed the holding of a preliminary conference on the poll protest involving Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
During its summer session in Baguio City on Tuesday, the justices granted Marcos' motion and set the preliminary conference for June 21 at the high court.
“Considering, however, that Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules mandate that the rules are to be liberally construed to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the tribunal, the PET has deemed it proper to conduct the preliminary conference of both protests jointly and that the issues raised during the preliminary conference should includes issues of the Protest (Marcos') and the Counter-Protest (Robredo's),” the tribunal said.
The PET also required the camps of Marcos and Robredo to submit preliminary conference briefs, which shall contain the following:
- The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
- The simplification of the issues;
- The limitation of the number of witnesses;
- The most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, elections returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protest; and
- Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposItion of the election protest and counter-protest
The camp of the former senator said they welcome the PET's resolution.
“With this date on sight, finally, Senator Marcos will have his day in court and prove that the Vice Presidency was indeed stolen from him and from the people. It is time for the truth come out,” Marcos’ lawyer, Vic Rodriguez said in a statement.
Robredo’s lead counsel, Romulo Macalintal, likewise welcomed the setting of the preliminary conference, saying they “want the case resolved at the soonest to remove any questions on the legitimacy” of his client’s victory.
He said the Vice President and her team are “fully ready” for this, expressing confidence that Marcos’ protest will be dismissed.
“We continue to have faith in the integrity of the Justice system and believe that the truth will prevail. The pre-trial will expose the weakness and insufficiency in form and substance of the Marcos protest,” he added.
Marcos is contesting the poll results in 39,221 clustered precincts, which the Commission on Elections said are composed of 132,446 precincts, while Robredo is questioning the results in 8,042 clustered precincts, which are composed of 31,278 precincts.
Marcos lost to Robredo by just 263,473 votes in the May 2016 election that the former senator claimed was marred by fraud.
Both camps were ordered to raise P81.46 million for the poll protest, which the PET said would be used for the retrieval of contested ballot boxes and election documents from contested precincts nationwide.
Marcos already paid the initial cash deposit of P36.02 million. Robredo had appealed the tribunal's order only to be directed again to pay the first installment worth P8 million. —with Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/KBK/RSJ, GMA News