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Bersamin admits wanting to delay vote on Marcos protest vs. Robredo

Outgoing Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Wednesday admitted that wanted to delay the vote on Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Bersamin, who will retire on Friday, he said didn't like speculations that he had the results fixed.

He was one of 11 justices of the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), who decided to order Marcos and Robredo to comment on a report about an initial vote recount that was part of the case.

Justices Antonio Carpio and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa were the only two dissenters. Carpio will retire on October 26.

"This is something that I will tell you — I wanted to delay the vote because I did not like to take part in it, because I did not like the public like the media speculating that I cooked or orchestrated the result," Bersamin told reporters.

"I always told you, hindi pwedeng magluto dito sa Supreme Court, dahil ang daming involved," he said.

Bersamin earlier said that the outcome of the high-profile case could not be rigged.

He said the rest of the court "prevailed" upon him to vote during their en banc session Tuesday, and that they eventually decided on an action that he said was "part of due process."

Apart from commenting on the report on the vote recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, Marcos' pilot provinces, the PET ordered the parties to submit their position on issues regarding the losing candidate's bid for the annulment of 2016 election results for vice president in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.

Marcos argued election results in these three Mindanao provinces should be nullified because of alleged terrorism, pre-shading of ballots, and vote substitution, among other grounds.

Robredo, on the other hand, believes Marcos' protest should already have been dismissed because he failed to show a "substantial recovery" of votes from the three pilot provinces — the areas he had chosen to "best exemplify" alleged electoral fraud in the contested polls.

Bersamin said it was "only fair" for the litigants to be given time to comment on or to challenge the findings in the initial recount report.

Both parties had claimed a win from Tuesday's resolution, but Bersamin said, "It's their opinion, it does not come from the court."

"It's up to them whatever they say, they may distort even what we have decided so it's not up to us," Bersamin said.

"Unless somebody else comes here and complains that there was a falsification of the truth, we just leave them at that. Nakita niyo ba may naluto, wala naman," he added.

Bersamin said he preferred not to disclose the contents of the "long" initial recount report that he said was generated by Caguioa, the justice in charge of the case.

"It may not be fair on my part to sum up because I would inevitably omit some or few details which the parties may find to be very critical or crucial or important," Bersamin said.

"And that is the hardest thing to be done by a chief justice: to be perceived as misrepresenting. So I'd rather avoid," he added.

Bersamin will retire on Friday, his 70th birthday, after 11 years in the High Court and 33 years in the judiciary. —NB, GMA News