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Robredo asks PET to junk Marcos' bid to throw out counter protest

Vice President Leni Robredo has asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to dismiss the motion of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos. Jr. seeking to throw out her counter protest in relation to the 2016 polls.

The vice president said Marcos' motion should be treated as a "sham pleading" that has to be stricken off the records or dismissed.

Marcos went to the PET because Robredo initially failed to pay the first installment of the required fee for her counter protest.

He said Rule 34 of the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal empowers the body "to dismiss the protest or counter-protest or take such action as it may deem equitable under the circumstances."

Marcos also cited two cases where the SC upheld the dismissal of election protests for non-payment of cash deposits on time.

Robredo had filed a motion seeking to defer the payment of protest fee but this was turned down by the tribunal, which insisted she had to pay the cash deposit of P8 million.

Robredo settled the amount on May 2.

For the vice president, her compliance to the order has rendered Marcos' motion moot and academic.

She also slammed Marcos for using the SC decisions in Perla Garcia versus the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Angping and Bienvenido William Lloren versus the Commission on Elections and Pua.

Robredo said that the issue in the Garcia case was the failure to pay the cash deposits simultaneous with the filing fees.

The Lloren case, on the other hand, centered on the payment of the appeal fee.

The vice president also said it was not mandatory for the PET to dismiss a poll protest for non-payment of cash deposit

"Marcos conveniently omitted to say that the dismissal of a protest or counter protest, as the case may be, due to the non-payment of cash deposit is discretionary and not mandatory," stated the motion dated May 5.

"Rule 34 of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, as invoked by protestant Marcos, provides that the tribunal may dismiss the protest or counter protest. The use of the word 'may' operates to the discretion of the Honorable Tribunal. Hence, the non-payment of the cash deposit does not result at all to the dismissal of the counter protest," it added.

Marcos and Robredo are required to raise a total of P81.46 million to move the poll protest forward. The fees will cover the retrieval of contested ballot boxes and election documents from contested precincts.

Of the total amount, determined at P500 per established precinct, P66 million must come from Marcos, who is seeking a recount for more than 36,000 clustered precincts and the nullity of results in nearly 3,000 others.

The former senator, who lost to Robredo by just over 200,000 votes, was able to pay the initial P36 million for his protest last April 17.

Robredo is required to pay P15.44 million for her counter protest.

The deadline for the payment of the second installment is on July 14. —KG, GMA News