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Oust Leonen from protest case — Marcos

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday filed a “strong manifestation ” before the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which among other pleas, sought the inhibition of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen from the electoral protest case he filed against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In his manifestation, Marcos cited Leonen’s “palpable bias and partiality towards the Marcos family,” like the magistrate’s dissenting opinion in his father’s, the late former president Ferdinand E. Marcos, burial case which was resolved by the SC.

The former lawmaker noted Leonen’s dissenting opinion, which stated in part:” [F]ormer President Ferdinand E. Marcos presided over a regime that caused untold sufferings for millions of Filipinos.”

Also, Marcos expressed belief that Leonen was using the election protest to exact ‘vengeance’ because he, when he was still a member of the Senate, rejected the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), as chairperson of the Committee on Local Government.

It will be recalled that Leonen was appointed by then president Benigno Aquino III to be the chief negotiator during the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) talks.

“Given the fact that the Supreme Court is a collegial body, it would be unfair and unjust for the other members… to be tainted by the apparent impropriety of Associate Justice Leonen, “ Marcos’ 22-page Extremely Urgent Omnibus Motion read.

Apart from the inhibition of Leonen, Marcos likewise asked PET to (1) re-raffle the case; and (2) to immediately resolve all pending incidents in the election case.

Leonen is the justice-in-charge (ponente) in Marcos’ electoral protest case against Robredo.

He replaced Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa as the ponente of the case in October 2019. Both are appointees of former president Aquino and are known to be staunch allies of the Liberal Party.

“It is clear that we’ll never get justice if Leonen is around because of his hatred towards me and my family. This is evidenced by his past decisions where he unequivocally condemned me and my family. Its obvious he’s doing everything in his power to suppress the real story behind the 2016 Vice-Presidential elections, disenfranchising millions of Filipinos who wanted nothing but credible elections,” Marcos said.

“The right thing to do is for Justice Leonen to recuse himself from participating in my election protest so that the case can finally move forward. We need to resolve the issue of legitimacy — one way or another,” he added.

The move to seek Leonen’s inhibition came following the comment-compliance of the Office of the Solicitor General and Commission on Election (COMELEC) to a PET order dated September 29, 2020.

In their separate submissions, Comelec and OSG shared the same stand that PET can invalidate the election results in three Mindanao provinces. Marcos has sought to nullify election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to alleged electoral fraud during the 2016 vice presidential election.

In its 40-page comment, the OSG cited as its legal basis Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, which stated that “the tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President and may promulgate rules for the purpose.”

“In the case at bar, it is indubitable that even if the votes cast in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan are declared null and void, there is no failure to elect to speak of. On the contrary, the ultimate winner, or the one with majority (or plurality) of the valid votes cast, is easy determinable. “

” All told, it is respectfully submitted that the Honorable Tribunal has the power to declare the anullment of elections or a failure of elections without infringing upon the COMELEC’s authority, but it has no concomitant power to order the conduct of special elections, “ the comment read.

Marcos earlier said that the decision of Leonen, the justice-in-charge of his election protest, requiring the OSG and Comelec to file their comments on several issues, will only further delay the resolution of his case that is in danger of becoming moot and academic due to the very limited time left in the term of office of the contested position.

Marcos is poised to lead by more or less 45,000 thousand votes if the results for the three provinces in Mindanao are annulled by the PET due to various election related frauds such as massive substituted voting.

In his electoral protest, Marcos’ third cause of action was the annulment of election results for vice president in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.

Likewise, Marcos asked PET to get handwriting experts to validate voter signatures in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan which he claimed were highly questionable and dubious.

“The results in the appreciation of the ballots in the pilot precincts are not mathematically insurmountable as to render the third cause of action moot and academic,” he said.

He asked that the 477,985 votes Robredo garnered in the three Mindanao provinces be immediately voided. Marcos got 169,160 votes in these areas.

Voiding the votes in these provinces would wipe out Robredo’s lead of 263,473 votes during the last vice presidential election.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes. #

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Hector Lawas
Court reporter for more than 20 years