Withdraw poll protest so Robredo can focus on drug war, Marcos told

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — Vice President Leni Robredo’s lawyer asked former Senator Bongbong Marcos to withdraw his electoral protest so the former could focus on her new appointment as anti-drug czar.

Last week, Robredo accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to help in the government’s anti-drug campaign by being the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs. The vice president said that she wanted to bring reforms in the drug war.

Atty. Romulo Macalintal on Tuesday suggested that it would be a “graceful exit” for Marcos to withdraw his protest citing a “cloud of doubt” regarding its merits.

“Of doubtful merit na rin naman ang kanyang protesta, a graceful exit is to withdraw it and show statesmanship and show patriotism in the light of the new appointment of the vice president. Please help the vice president in making a direct focus now on her new job against illegal drugs,” said Macalintal in a forum.

[Translation: His protest is already of doubtful merit so a graceful exit is to withdraw it and show statesmanship and show patriotism in the light of new appointment of the vice president. Please help the vice president in making a direct focus now on her new job against illegal drugs.]

Marcos filed in 2016 an electoral protest against Robredo before the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), questioning the results of the vice presidential race. Robredo was named as the 14th vice president of the country with a lead of 263,473 votes against Marcos.

The recount began April 2018 in polling precincts in Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Oriental, which were handpicked by Marcos’ camp. However, PET revealed last month that Robredo’s lead widened by around 15,000 after a recount from the 5,415 clustered precincts in the pilot provinces.

READ: Robredo widens lead over Marcos in initial poll recount – PET

“Alam naman niyang there is already a cloud of doubt regarding the legitimacy or merits of his petition, considering that the PET [is] unanimous in their findings,” said Macalintal.

[Translation: He is already aware that there is already a cloud of doubt regarding the legitimacy or merits of his petition, considering that the PET [is] unanimous in their findings.]

The lawyer of former Senator Bongbong Marcos meanwhile slammed Macalintal’s remark, saying a case dismissal should be based on merit, not on “mere empty politicking.”

“Inferring from his statement, the counsel of Mrs. Robredo has grown lazy. It has become apparent that he wants us to do his job for him,” Marcos spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said in a statement.

“The dismissal of a pending action should be based on merit and not on mere empty politicking or puerile soundbytes,” he added.

Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said that the vice president has been busy lately with her new post.

“We are talking about almost three dozen agencies that the vice president has now to work with. In addition, since she wanted new approaches, she wanted to explore talking to other stakeholders, we also have to take meetings with other organizations and individuals na before hindi masyadong nakakausap,” said Gutierrez in the forum.