Lawyer Vic Rodriguez on Tuesday appealed to groups behind the failed presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo to respect the landslide win handed by over 31 million Filipinos to presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Rodriguez, the spokesperson of Marcos Jr., issued the statement in a reaction to a petition filed at the Supreme Court (SC) Monday seeking to nullify the Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) of the incoming President.
“This case has been resolved unanimously by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the division and en banc levels. The petition was dismissed and the decision was unanimous,” Rodriguez said in a press conference.
The lawyer said they have yet to receive a copy of the 70-page petition filed by the group represented by lawyer and former SC spokesperson Theodore Te.
“I appeal to those who keep on pursuing this divisiveness, the Filipino people have already spoken and the overwhelming majority have voted for President-elect Bongbong Marcos and Vice President-elect Inday Sara Duterte,” Rodriguez said.
“Instead of pushing your agenda of animosity, help us with our limited time in a day — 24 hours — to be productive and to learn to respect the will of the people,” he added.
Aside from nullifying the candidacy of Marcos Jr., the groups allied with Robredo wanted the SC to declare her as the winner in the elections the other Monday.
Pending a final SC decision on the validity of Marcos Jr.’s CoC, the petitioners also asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order against Congress convening to canvass the votes for President and Vice President.
Congress is expected to convene and complete its canvass and proclaim the winners this month. The Constitution mandates that the newly elected leaders, led by the President and Vice President, must take their oath of office by 30 June.
Te’s group said nullifying the CoC of Marcos Jr. would make Robredo the winner. “The second-placer in the vote count (Robredo) is actually the first-placer among the qualified candidates,” the petitioners claimed.
The group expressed no qualms in wanting to supplant the will of the 31 million Filipinos who made Marcos Jr. the first majority-elected president since 1986 with their own or those of the appointed members of the SC.
Marcos Jr. has 31.1 million votes compared to Robredo’s 14.8 million votes in the partial and unofficial count with 98.35 percent of the votes transmitted.
Robredo’s lawyer in the 2016 VP electoral protest filed against her by Marcos Jr. insisted the SC can overturn the will of the electorate.
“Even if Marcos has already been sworn and assumed office, the Supreme Court would still have residual jurisdiction to rule on whether or not he committed material misrepresentation in his CoC and order its cancellation if it finds basis,” Emil Marañón said.
“In that case, votes cast in Marcos’ favor will be treated as stray and not be counted. And whoever gets the highest number of votes after subtracting the stray votes, gets to be proclaimed President,” Marañón added.
The petition echoed the position of Robredo’s lawyer when it said: “A candidate’s putative election victory cannot subsequently cure his ineligibility. Elections are more than just a numbers game such that an election victory cannot bypass election eligibility requirements.”
The petition was seen as a mere rehash of their position junked by the Comelec — that Marcos Jr.’s conviction for his alleged failure to file income tax returns in 1997 has made him ineligible to run for public office.
In dismissing the case, the Comelec said that the tax applicable at the time did not perpetually disqualify Marcos Jr. from holding public office. As such, the Comelec said he did not misrepresent in his CoC his eligibility, contrary to the claim of Te’s group.
Also on Tuesday, Rodriguez confirmed that Marcos Jr. has flown to Australia to take a three-day rest with his family after a grueling 90-day presidential campaign.
“It’s more of a private trip, a private visit, for much-needed rest and vacation of President-elect Bongbong. I think he would just want to enjoy his remaining few days before he assumes officially his office as the President of the Republic,” Rodriguez said.
“He’s just pushing himself to enjoy momentarily being citizen Bongbong. He’s coming home this Thursday,” he added. Marcos’ youngest son Vincent is celebrating his 25th birthday on Tuesday, 17 May.
Rodriguez revealed that the incoming President spoke on the phone with Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the latter congratulating him on his victory in the 2022 presidential elections.
He added that Morrison commended the Philippines for conducting “honest and orderly national elections.”
“He (Morrison) affirmed that the Australian government would continue its warm and close interactions with the Philippine government. He also recognized the credibility and integrity of the elections,” Rodriguez said.
“Nakakahiya (it’s embarrassing),” said Rodriguez over a group of Filipinos in Australia who carried placards in protest of Marcos Jr.’s visit. He added that it’s “un-Filipino” to try to put to shame a fellow Filipino in another country.
Rodriguez also denounced as unfounded and false the allegations raging online that the former senator supposedly booked the entire luxury private island resort of Amanpulo in Palawan for his victory party.
He said he was surprised by the claims, emphasizing that Marcos Jr., being an Ilocano, is thrifty and would not spend a fortune to book an entire island.
“Not unless he is surprising us, but there’s nothing like that. It’s far from reality, these are malicious claims by irresponsible social media users,” he said, urging the public to use online platforms more responsibly.