FORMER Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. decried Wednesday the “obvious bias” of Supreme Court Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the ponente of his election protest now pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, against him and in favor of former Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Café Adriatico in Malate, Manila, Marcos said the series of decisions issued by the PET on his election protest clearly demonstrated the bias of Caguioa against him.
“It has now become fairly obvious that his resolutions are biased against me and biased in favor of my oppositor,” he told journalists at the weekly forum.
Caguioa was appointed by then President Benigno Aquino III. They were classmates from elementary to college at the Ateneo De Manila University.
While the PET is a collegial body composed of 15 justices of the Supreme Court, Marcos said it was Caguioa, who was assigned the case, who decided and issued the minute resolutions regarding his protest.
At the same time, Marcos ruled out the possibility of reclaiming a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections, saying he was focused on winning his electoral protest against Robredo.
Marcos said not even an endorsement from President Rodrigo Duterte would convince him to run for the Senate again, mindful of the fact that a victory could mean an abandonment of his poll protest.
The former senator cited the case filed by the late former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago against former President Fidel Ramos after the 1992 national elections.
The camp of Robredo told Benigno Aquino that [it is] presumptuous to claim you’re vice president.
Robredo through counsel Romulo Macalintal reacted to Marcos’ claim he believed the vice presidency was his.
“It was too presumptuous for Mr. Ferdinand Marcos to claim that he already won the vice presidency or he is just dreaming,” Macalintal said.
“If he won as vice president, why is it that it was Robredo who was proclaimed by Congress as winner?” he asked.
Marcos enumerated some of the Orders issued by Caguioa which showed his one-sidedness in favor of Robredo.
He said as early as April 2017, the PET gave him only two working days to pay his initial P36 million protest fee.
That was right smack during Holy Week of last year when all the banks were closed.
Despite this, he managed to comply with the required fee because under the PET Rules, his protest would be dismissed if he failed to pay on time.
Robredo, on the other hand, failed to meet the deadline set by the PET but Caguioa gave her an extension.
To this day—nine months later, Robredo has still not managed to fully complete the payment of her deposit.
Another manifestation of Caguioa’s lopsided decision, Marcos pointed out, was his motion concerning the decryption and printing of ballot images in the SD cards, a move that was originally opposed by Robredo’s camp.
Marcos said Caguioa granted his motion on the condition he paid for all the costs involved for the decryption process.
To date, Marcos has paid an additional P7 million for the decryption costs.
Despite having paid for all the costs involved in the decryption and printing, Marcos said his legal team was still waiting for Caguioa’s order to give them the printed images—which has been ready since last year.
However, when Robredo asked for the soft copies of the ballot images, Caguioa immediately granted her request—without requiring her to pay a single centavo.
Another instance was when Caguioa ordered him to produce 8,000 witnesses for his third cause of action (annulment of votes in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan) within a non-extendable period of five days.
However, after his legal team complied with the Order and submitted the names of the 8,000 witnesses within the non-extendable 5 day period, Caguioa merely deferred the resolution of his motion.
Marcos added that after one and a half years, it was clear that the strategy of his opponent was to delay his protest in the hope he would lose hope and throw in the towel.
But their attempts to delay the protest comes with a price: the current political instability of the country.
Marcos said: “It has been almost two years and we have not yet done a recount, not even a single ballot box has been retrieved. How can you say that it is correct for an issue as fundamental or basic as to the conduct of national elections to be kept hanging?
“All these questions are left unanswered and it cannot be good for the stability of our political system.”
Marcos found it strange that Macalintal, counsel of his opponent, kept issuing unsolicited advice that he should run for a Senate position in 2019 and forego his election protest.
When asked what legal remedies he would take regarding Justice Caguioa, Marcos said it was up to his legal team.
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