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PET withdraws show cause order vs. Calida, journalist —source

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has withdrawn the show cause order it had issued against Solicitor General Jose Calida and Manila Times journalist Jomar Canlas.

A source confirmed on Tuesday that the tribunal withdrew the order which directed Calida and Canlas to explain why they should not be held in contempt of court in connection with moves for the inhibition of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen from the Marcos-Robredo election protest case.

According to the source, Leonen wrote his colleagues a letter saying "forgiveness is often the more decent consequence of another's misunderstanding."

The PET last week denied the separate motions filed by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. and Calida which sought Leonen's recusal from proceedings in Marcos' election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Both Marcos and Calida accused Leonen of being biased against the Marcos family and alleged the case has been delayed under Leonen's watch as justice-in-charge. They both cited reports by Canlas in their motions.

Though Marcos claimed he and Calida, who campaigned for him in the 2016 elections, are not in discussions about the case, Robredo's lawyers said the similarities in their arguments, as well as the timing of their filings within hours of each other, are "too perfect to be accidental."

The Robredo camp has asked the PET to investigate the "possible collusion" between the two.

The denial of the motions was the second time Marcos' allegations failed to convince the PET to remove the justice-in-charge from the case. In 2018, the magistrates rejected Marcos' claims of partiality against then-ponente Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

Meanwhile, Robredo through her lawyers has continued to assert before the tribunal that she won not only in the 2016 elections but also in a recount of votes from Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental, and Iloilo.

In a pleading dated November 23, Robredo's legal team asked the PET to affirm the results of the recount in the three pilot provinces and, as a consequence, dismiss Marcos' protest.

The PET said last year that Robredo's lead over Marcos increased by some 15,000 votes following the recount. Two justices and Robredo's camp said this was enough reason to dismiss the case under Rule 65 of the PET rules.

This rule allows the protestant -- in this case Marcos -- to choose three provinces where he alleges election irregularities took place. If an examination of ballots from these provinces shows that the protestant "will most probably fail to make out his case," the protest may be dismissed, according to the rule.

Citing due process, however, the majority ruled to direct the parties to comment on another part of Marcos' protest -- the annulment of election results in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan due to alleged terrorism and fraud. -MDM, GMA News