After two postponements by the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), it is strange that yet another postponement, a third time, had been decided by the SC justices on the vote of Justice Benjamin Caguioa’s draft ruling with regard to the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
According to reports, the justices were not ready to deliberate and vote on the draft ruling from Caguioa who had called for the dismissal of the Marcos protest for lack of merit.
This is even more odd, considering that two weeks had passed from the first scheduled deliberations, and it is expected that they would have come up with their opinions, whether concurring or dissenting, for the vote. After all, the deliberations and voting already had been scheduled and the justices, with their staff, certainly would have made time for their opinions on paper with their vote, especially after two postponements.
It was earlier reported that majority of the SC justices were poised to junk Caguioa’s draft ruling dismissing the Marcos protest. Yet once again, the High Court, in the en banc session, decided to take up this issue next week, where at least two SC justices are almost up for retirement. Already, one justice had retired earlier, Justice Francis Jardeleza. Both the Chief Justice, Lucas Bersamin, and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio are due for retirement very soon.
The report also said that only three justices have circulated their opinions on Caguioa’s draft ruling, while the rest claimed they have yet to complete theirs, which is the reason the justices moved to defer the voting to have more time to study the case and write their own separate opinions. Just how long does it take for justices to study a case? Months? Sometimes even years just to declare it moot?
Bersamin is set to retire on 18 October, or three days before he steps down as Chief Justice, while Carpio is set to retire on 26 October. Carpio, being the most senior justice after Bersamin, is expected to be named the acting head of the SC — for at least a few days more.
It was earlier reported that nine to 11 magistrates out of the 14 justices were expected to vote against the Caguioa draft ruling, which means, if the report is accurate, that Marcos enjoys an edge over Robredo. Her camp seems to make it appear that Leni enjoys full support for the Marcos protest case with her “sudden” supporters, and her counsel is making so much noise over getting the SC-PET to provide Robredo with the official results of the vote revisions even, when evidently, the Robredo camp already has its own copy and certainly are aware of the results.
But perhaps Leni and her camp fear that the majority of the justices may decide that the protest should proceed to the next level, which is the reception of evidence to determine whether there was electoral fraud in the vice-presidential contest.
Robredo would be given the chance to proceed with the revision of her pilot provinces for her counter-protest, a report said, quoting sources.
But perhaps the Leni camp’s objection to the next SC step will force her and her counsel to present evidence that may even be detrimental to her counter-protest?
But if Leni and her camp truly believe that she is the rightful winner of the vice-presidential race, why is the Leni camp making so much noise, if, as her camp almost always claims, she has the winning edge over Marcos? Even much, much earlier, her counsel and her camp had been pushing for Leni’s affirmation as VP, despite there not having been yet any deliberations at all.
Marcos’ counsel Victor Rodriquez was quoted as saying that, “as early as 10 September, when it was initially made public that a decision is forthcoming, supporters of Mrs. Robredo already gathered outside of the Supreme Court in such a celebratory mood and proclaiming victory complete with leaflets depicting figures alleged to have been sourced from a draft decision.”
Surely if Leni believes she has that edge and is so certain of having won the vice presidency, there wouldn’t have been too many objections or motions from her election lawyer. And if she won over Marcos in his protest, her lawyer should just wait for the High Court’s decision — whether to go along with Caguioa’s ponencia or take the next step to proceed with the protest case.
The report said the justices would vote on whether or not the election protest case should be dismissed outright or if it should be pursued further to determine if fraud marred the vice-presidential election in 2016.
Truth is, the SC, for years, has evaded making a firm decision on the real winner of the race, whether the presidential or vice-presidential race and the probability of the country having had all these decades presidents who cheated their way through — is pretty high.
Once and for all, the SC should vote to find out whether massive fraud was committed. This is what these SC justices owe the electorate — the truth!