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SC junks Bongbong Marcos' poll protest vs. Robredo

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Tuesday dismissed for lack of merit the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo over the results of the 2016 race.

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka told reporters that the court unanimously voted to junk the protest, nearly five years after it was filed by Marcos on June 29, 2016. Robredo’s counter-protest has also been dismissed, the court said.

Of the 15 justices present during the meeting, seven magistrates “fully concurred” in the dismissal while the rest “concurred” in the result, Hosaka said. The decision will be uploaded to the high court’s website once available, he added.

Hosaka could not say whether the decision can be appealed.

“I cannot answer the question because I only have the information which I read,” he said at a news conference.

Robredo held a press conference on Tuesday night and said the truth prevailed in the PET's decision.

“Ngayong araw, nanaig ang katotohanan. Naitaguyod ang tunay na pasya noong 2016,” Robredo said.

“Naniwala kami na sa dulo, katotohanan ang mananaig. Naniwala kami sa proseso, naniwala kami sa integridad ng PET justices. We are happy and grateful that this trust was affirmed,” she added.

Robredo beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the 2016 polls.

Her lead increased by 15,000 after a manual recount in three provinces chosen by Marcos as a result of the filed protest.

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesperson, said the SC had yet to decide on Marcos' third cause of action which was the annulment of election results from Mindanao.

The Palace, on the other hand, said it respected the SC decision but added that Marcos could still appeal the ruling.

“‘Yan ay desisyon ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman. We respect that,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press conference in Davao City.

“We respect also that the camp of (former) senator Bongbong Marcos has a further remedy of moving for reconsideration,” he added.

Marcos, son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 elections which the former senator claimed was marred by fraud.

One part of Marcos' protest was a recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces he chose: Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. After the recount, the PET found that Robredo's lead over Marcos widened by some 15,000 votes.

Marcos then asked the PET for a review of the recount results. Robredo, meanwhile, called for an immediate dismissal of the case, as well as an order for Marcos to present evidence to justify his sought technical examination of voter documents from Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan.

The former senator’s so-called third cause of action is the annulment of election results in the three Mindanao provinces because of alleged terrorism and voter intimidation.

He had insisted the case must proceed to the third cause of action independently of the results of the recount.

Marcos and Solicitor General Jose Calida had also attempted to remove Associate Justice Marvic Leonen as the magistrate in charge of the protest, accusing Leonen of bias against the Marcos family and delays in the resolution of the case.

The tribunal denied both motions and directed Calida, who campaigned for Marcos in the 2016 election, to explain why he should not be held in contempt for seeking the inhibition of Leonen.

In 2018, the PET similarly dismissed Marcos' motion for the inhibition of then-member-in-charge Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. — KBK/RSJ/AOL/NB, GMA News