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Another delay?

It is a fact that to this day, there has not been any presidential/vice presidential protest really resolved by the High Court acting as the PET.

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin says there is no manipulation of the decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on the vice-presidential election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.

The Chief Justice’s comment no doubt arises from the many delays in the Supreme Court, acting as the PET, in resolving the protest, after scheduling the deliberations at least three times.

Another day of deliberation among the justices has been scheduled, but Bersamin was quoted as saying that there may, or may not be a decision, which should translate to yet another delay in resolving the vice-presidential protest.

The soon-to-retire Bersamin said: “This is something I can tell you: we are expected to have a result by next week. It may not be what you expect. We are still discussing many other things. So, that is all I can tell you. Don’t worry, I’m not manipulating it. It can’t be manipulated.”

He added that the justices will probably come out with a ruling. “We cannot tell. There may be a decision; there may not be a decision. But the reality is we are still considering whether there is already enough before us.”

What seems to be overlooked by the justices is that public suspicion grows due to the delays in the justices taking so long to deliberate on the issue that had been already in the agenda at least three times. This should mean that they should have been ready with their opinions even before the newly scheduled deliberations again that, going by what Bersamin informed the reporters covering the judiciary beat, there may, or may not, be a decision.

But why should there still be no decision — if it comes to that — considering the many delays they had with a decision still not reached among the justices?

There are some who suspect that the long delay could be deliberate, as it was reported a day before the scheduled en banc deliberation that the majority of the SC justices were already ready to junk Justice Benjamin Caguioa’s draft ruling dismissing the Marcos protest. The long delay would prove that the report was wrong — or so the justices may think.

Yet once again, the High Court, in the last en banc session, postponed this and stated it would be taking up this issue next week. The PET again failed to come up with the decision and rescheduled deliberations.

By the 18th of this month, the Chief Justice will be retiring and a week or so after, it would be the turn of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to retire.

Earlier, it was Justice Francis Jardeleza who had retired.

So, what is the SC-PET waiting for? To delay the decision some more weeks and perhaps even wait for 2022 when the vice-presidential term will have been over and the issue becomes moot?

This is exactly what makes the Filipino people so frustrated as protests lodged before the SC-PET have never been resolved satisfactorily. It is a fact that to this day, there has not been any presidential/vice presidential protest really resolved by the High Court acting as the PET.

What has been done, all these electoral protest years, is for the PET to wait for the protestant to run for a lower office, which then gives the PET “reason” to claim that he has abandoned the protest, which is a very poor reason for the PET to abort the electoral protest.

The SC-PET usually waits for the election to see whether the protestant — after paying the SC tens of millions for filing — runs for another office after three years to end the protest. The last time, it took the PET six years to end the protest of losing vice-presidential bet Mar Roxas, and only for the PET to state that the case was already moot. But of course. After a wait of six years, what else can be expected by way of a ruling?

For sure, the martial law activists and their new devotees don’t want a PET decision favoring Marcos, as they have been coming up with cries of the Marcoses being back in power should the PET decide on the case favoring Bongbong. They say that in the event the decision goes to Bongbong, this means that he will not only be the declared vice president but would also make him run for the presidency.

Aren’t these activists then saying that it’s okay if, say, Leni Robredo continues to sit as vice president even if it is found that she won the seat through massive electoral fraud, as long as Marcos won’t ever become vice president and more importantly for them, never for him to vie for the presidency?

And they dare speak of democracy when these same activist groups don’t even want to respect the sovereign vote and the will of the Filipino people?

The issue should not be whether Marcos or Robredo emerges as winner of the vice-presidential race. The issue should always be whether there was massive fraud that marked the 2016 elections to finally put an end to electoral cheats who do not deserve to be our elected officials.

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