The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, on Wednesday rebuffed the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo for making statements on the pending election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in violation of the sub judice rule and the “gag order” it imposed earlier.
READ: Robredo bullying PET, Marcos claims
SC Public Information Office chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka reminded the camps of Robredo and Marcos to respect the sub judice rules enjoining parties, including lawyers, from making statements regarding the poll protest pending resolution before the high electoral tribunal.
“I would like to remind the parties and their lawyers to respect the order of the Court for them not to issue statements or discuss the case with the media in violation of the sub judice rule,” Hosaka said in a text message to reporters.
In June last year, the high court had penalized both camps, imposing P50,000 fines on Robredo and Marcos and their counsels for violating the sub judice rule.
Hosaka made the statement after Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal was reported to have said the VP’s camp has evidence showing that after the initial revision of votes in the three pilot provinces, namely Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, the vice president increased her lead by 15,000 votes over Marcos.
“So we said this should already be dismissed. But there are speculations that even if there was no substantial [evidence], [the PET] would continue with the case. That does not seem right because under the rules if they do not see any anomaly in the three provinces, they would dismiss the case,” Macalintal said.
The lawyer wondered why the Supreme Court appeared to be not inclined to follow the rules.
Hosaka said he cannot comment on Macalintal’s claim since he has not yet seen or read the report submitted by PET member-in-charge Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa on the three pilot provinces to the tribunal.
“It is only the Justices who have information about this because this is confidential,” he stressed.
“Justices are carefully studying the case pending before the Tribunal because at stake is the second-highest government position in the country, the vice presidency, and to determine who was the candidate really elected by the people as their vice president,” Hosaka said.
“That is why the justices are thoroughly and carefully studying the report and in dealing with every issue and evidence of the case,” he explained.
On June 29, 2016, Marcos filed an election protest against Robredo seeking to declare Robredo’s victory as null and void; to conduct a recount of ballots in all of the 36,465 protested clustered precincts in 27 cities and provinces; and to declare the election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan as null on the grounds of terrorism, intimidation, and harassment of voters.
With this electoral protest, Marcos was allowed to designate three pilot provinces which best exemplify election fraud for the manual recount, which would serve as the basis on whether the tribunal would proceed with the recount on all protested areas. They brought in revisors and three commissioners to go through the clustered ballot boxes from the 2016 elections.
Last Sept. 9, Caguioa submitted the report on the recount and revision on the three pilot provinces.
The PET has yet to take action on Caguioa’s report on the revision of votes covered by the designated three pilot provinces.