VP poll protest: Robredo camp says ‘game over,’ but Marcos side wants more details

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 17)— The Supreme Court’s unanimous dismissal of the poll protest lodged by former Senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo may mean “game over” for the case, the camp of the elected official said on Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Robredo's legal counsel Atty. Romy Macalintal argued it would be “very hard” to overturn the clear decision by the court’s 15-member en banc, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

“Para sa akin game over na ito, kasi unanimous ‘yan eh — very, very hard to overturn a 15-member en banc na voting unanimously to dismiss the case,” Macalintal told The Source.

[Translation: For me, this is already game over, because it was unanimous. It’s very very hard to overturn a 15-member en banc voting unanimously to dismiss the case.]

“I don’t know kung sino pang justice ang magrereview kasi (who else can review this because) it would need another justice to review the entire case, voluminous documents in order to come up with a decision that would overturn the decision,” he added.

All 15 magistrates of the high court voted to dismiss the entire poll protest— concluding more than four years of litigation on the case.

Marcos filed the protest on June 30, 2016 as he questioned the poll results in the same year, when Robredo beat him by 263,473 votes for the coveted post.

A highly-placed source in the tribunal said the defeated vice presidential candidate failed to present specific acts to back his claims of poll fraud, such as the time and manner of irregularities. Allegations presented were also bare and “laden with generic and repetitious allegations,” the source added.

Meanwhile, Macalintal also advised Marcos’ camp to think carefully about a possible move to file a motion for reconsideration, citing the years-long process for provinces to resolve a single election recount case.

Marcos’ camp wants clarification

However, Marcos’ camp said it would be still “premature” to talk about a motion for reconsideration since they have yet to receive a copy of the court document.

Marcos' legal counsel Atty. Vic Rodriguez said they would be waiting for the “clear and full picture” of the decision before making their next move.

“At this point, everything is suspended in air hangga’t hindi namin nakukuha ‘yung desisyon,” Rodriguez said in the same program. “It’s premature to be speaking about motion for reconsideration, we are not in that route yet.”

Specifically, Rodriguez said they would want to be clarified on whether the camp’s “third cause of action” was tackled. In this cause of action, Marcos asked the tribunal to revisit the results of the poll recount and to validate voter signatures in three provinces in Mindanao namely Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan due to alleged fraud and terrorism.

Doon kami interesado. Kung sinama ninyo ‘yung annulment of election results doon sa sinasabing unanimous dismissal… gusto naming malaman, gusto naming makita, paano niyo tinrato ‘yung aming third cause of action,” Rodriguez explained.

[Translation: That’s what we’re interested in. If you included the annulment of election results in the unanimous dismissal… we want to know and see how you treated our third cause of action.]

The source in the high court said having failed in the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, Marcos cannot seek the third cause of action of annulment of votes in Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan.

The tribunal in 2019 found that Robredo's lead grew by around 15,000 votes after a recount of ballots from clustered precincts in the pilot provinces.