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Leonen: ‘Emerging consensus’ in Marcos-Robredo PET case


There is an "emerging consensus" among the members of the Supreme Court (SC) on former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said Friday.

The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has yet to reach a decision on the high-profile case and is expected to continue deliberations next week.

"The deliberations are continuous, meaning to say every time the banc meets as a whole court and that is in the agenda, there will be quite a bit of discussion," Leonen told CNN-Philippines in an interview.

"I think we’re getting there, that there is an emerging consensus on how to move with respect to this case," he added.

The collegial court has 15 justices but currently has 14 because of Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza's retirement last month. Before the end of this month, they will be down to 12 as Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio retire on October 18 and 26, respectively.

There being many justices, their discussions "tend not to be dichotomous," Leonen said.

"You can imagine that several ideas have been proposed already," he said, but said he could not comment further on the pending case.

The justice also called out as "irresponsible" speculations regarding the tribunal's decision.

"We hear social media, we hear people making shall I say unfounded accusations, that there is already a vote, that it is for one side, that there is money exchanging hands. I think these are irresponsible comments," he said.

He described the tribunal's deliberations a "very honest discussion" on how to proceed with what he said was a very important case that involves "many angles" that will only be seen when a decision comes out.

"And when it is studied by the luminaries out there, I think they will start to appreciate why it's taking a bit of time," the justice said.

Robredo was proclaimed winner in the May 2016 elections, winning over Marcos by 263,473 votes. Claiming the victory was a product of cheating, Marcos filed a protest before the PET a day before Robredo took her oath as vice president.

The results of an initial recount of ballots from three provinces Marcos had chosen will determine whether or not his case will proceed to its next stage: a recount involving his remaining contested clustered precincts.

Apart from the recount, Marcos had also sought the annulment of vice presidential election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan due to what he claimed was election fraud. — Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/RSJ, GMA News

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