Marcos camp wants Robredo's counter-protest dismissed as VP hunts for funding

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is set to file a petition within the week to dismiss the counter-protest of Vice President Leni Robredo over his electoral protest, his lawyer said Tuesday.

The Marcos camp's defense is that Robredo failed to pay on Monday the first tranche of ₱8 million required to process her counter-protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Marcos complied on Monday with the PET's order for him to pay the first tranche of ₱36.023 million to fund the poll recount in 27 provinces, covering more than 39,000 clustered precincts.

This, even as his supporters protested Tuesday at the alleged delay on the part of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to issue in a timely manner, the PET resolution ordering him to pay the amount.

Bongbong supporters hit Sereno for PET resolution delay

Marcos' lawyer, Vic Rodriguez, believes Robredo's counter-protest is a delaying tactic and its dismissal would speed up the resolution of his client's poll protest.

"We are going to invoke Rule 33, that in case of failure to come up with the additional deposit required by the tribunal, the case may now be dismissed by the court," he told CNN Philippines on Tuesday.

Robredo's legal counsel, Maria Bernadette Sardillo, meanwhile, said they are willing to pay the amount, but only after the tribunal resolves their motion to clarify the former senator's protest fee.

PET required Marcos to pay ₱66 million and Robredo ₱15 million in two tranches in April and July 14 to fund their protests and counter-protests.

Sardillo said Marcos should pay ₱185 million - the total amount needed to question the integrity of all vote-counting machines in almost 370,000 precincts.

A petitioner needs to pay ₱500 per contested precinct.

"Yung 36,000 kasi for recount lang. But he's actually questioning the entire automated election system. So kung ganun, diba dapat ang basehan ng bayad ay 92,000?" Sardillo said.

How will Robredo pay counter-protest fund?

With Marcos paying ₱36 million to get the ball rolling in his protest case, how will Robredo pay the ₱15 million for the counter-protest?

Sardillo said they do not have the capacity to pay the P15 million, which is why they need to discuss how to come up with the funds, even for the first tranche of P8 million.

The PET requires payment of this amount to fund the opening of ballots in more than 8,000 clustered precincts.

The Vice President's 2015 statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth shows her net worth is only at ₱8.7 million.

Based on Republic Act 6713, officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties.

Marcos, who is now a private citizen, can pay through donations. The ₱36 million he paid to the PET was "pooled from friends and supporters."

If the tribunal greenlights Marcos' protest, his lawyer claims three material witnesses will prove cheating happened in the vice-presidential election.

"Three of them are still being hunted down by some people from that area...If they don't get these people back, their testimony will be very very damaging," Rodriguez said.

Marcos filed an electoral protest on June 29, 2016, contesting election results from some 39,000 precincts from 25 provinces and cities.

"Mag-iisang taon na mula nung nakaraang halalan. Hanggang ngayon hindi pa alam ng taong bayan kung sino ba talaga ang nanalo bilang bise presidente nung nakaraang halalan," Marcos said on Monday.

Robredo has repeatedly maintained she won in clean and honest elections.