Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday disputed the claim of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that he had been treated unfairly by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, whom he sought to have removed as justice-in-charge of his electoral protest.
In a counter manifestation filed by her lawyers, Robredo asserted that Marcos has been defeated twice — first in the 2016 elections, and again in the recount of votes from three provinces where he claimed massive cheating took place.
Robredo’s lawyers asked why Marcos was “desperate to show some semblance of credibility that he was cheated out of an office” when he was already given the opportunity to substantiate his allegation that he was cheated during the vice presidential race in 2016 national elections.
The vice president’s manifestation came after Marcos on Monday sought the recusal of Leonen from further handling his poll protest, citing the justice’s alleged bias against him and his family. He claimed Leonen had delayed the case.
Marcos lawyer Vic Rodriguez lashed back at the Robredo camp for tagging the former senator as “spoiled brat” for seeking Leonen’s recusal.
“We do not reply nor dignify Mrs. Robredo’s resort to ad hominem and usual gutter level of discourse,” Rodriguez said, in a text message.
“Maybe, perhaps, if they have a stronger legal argument that is credible then we may indulge them with our legal and intelligent reply,” he added.
Reacting to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s gag order for both Marcos and Robredo camp, Rodriguez said: “We have always maintained our obedience and respect to all of the tribunal’s directive including the order to refrain from discussing the merits of our case.”
“However, we should also take note of the right of the Filipino people to know what is happening in the election protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as they are the ultimate stakeholders whose interest in the resolution of this controversy is vital, and thus must, with delicate balance, be given access to general matters without dwelling on the merits,” he added.
The PET earlier reiterated its reminder for Marcos and Robredo to refrain from publicly discussing the merits of the pending case.
The Robredo camp recalled that two years ago, Marcos similarly asked for the inhibition of then-justice-in-charge Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa — a motion that the Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, refused for containing “empty allegations.”
The PET’s resolution at the time came with a warning against Marcos and his lawyers that “any unfounded and inappropriate accusation made in the future will be dealt with more severely.”
The vice president’s lawyers said Marcos has gone on the “the same frivolous route” despite the court’s warning.
“Protestant Marcos has not been treated unfairly. He has been given every opportunity to prove his unfounded claims of electoral frauds,” the manifestation stated.
“After more than four years, protestant Marcos has not been able to present a single evidence to prove that he should be declared the rightful winner in the 09 May 2016 Vice-presidential elections,” it said.
Robredo ’s lawyers also argued that following Marcos’ supposed logic in seeking the inhibition of Caguioa and Leonen would result in an “absurdity,” if not the recusal of the rest of the court.
The Robredo camp asked whether the vice president could impute bias against Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, who wrote the decision allowing the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and against Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, who concurred.
Marcos had cited Leonen’s dissent in the Marcos burial case as proof of his bias against the Marcos family and a ground for his inhibition.
But Robredo’s lawyers said the PET is now composed mostly of appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose “differences” with the vice president, they said, are “public knowledge.”
Duterte also has admitted being “indebted” to Senator Imee Marcos, who was among those who funded his presidential campaign, they said.
“Thus, should protestee Robredo now assume bias on the part of Associate Justices Gesmundo, Hernando, Carandang, Lazaro-Javier, Inting, Zalameda, Lopez, Delos Santos, Gaerlan and Rosario?” the lawyers asked.
“Are the members of the High Tribunal who have been appointed by President Duterte now biased in favor of protestant Marcos?” they said.
The Robredo lawyers also said the delay in the resolution of the election protest “can only be ascribed to the steadfast refusal of protestant Marcos to accept the plain and simple truth — he lost, not once but twice.”
They insisted that the election protest should have been dismissed last year when a recount of ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental showed Robredo’s lead over Marcos had widened by some 15,000 votes.