Robredo asks SC: Release initial vote recount results in VP protest

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo wants the Supreme Court (SC) to furnish her camp and that of her rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr with copies of the results of the initial vote recount in the electoral protest she is facing.

On Monday, October 7, Robredo's lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo filed their motion asking the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to give both the Robredo and Marcos camps copies of the official committee report on the revision, recount, and reappreciation of ballots from Marcos’ chosen 3 pilot provinces. 

These are Iloilo, Negros Oriental, and Camarines Sur, Robredo’s home province. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: The Marcos vs Robredo electoral protest

In their motion, Robredo’s lawyers argued releasing the committee report would "put to rest any apprehensions" of both parties following various "speculations" being floated after SC Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa finished his report on the initial vote recount results. 

"If only to put to rest the speculations and in the greater interest of transparency, protestee Maria Leonor G. Robredo respectfully asks that the parties be furnished with a copy of the Summary and Committee Report on the revision, recount, and reappreciation of ballots from the 3 pilot provinces," read the motion. 

Robredo's lawyers clarified their motion does not intend to delay the case, but is "dictated solely by the foregoing exigencies."

Speaking to reporters outside the SC, Macalintal said the committee report would also serve as basis for their camp to offer evidence should the PET rule against Robredo. 

"Dapat namang i-release 'yun kasi 'yung report na 'yun, 'yun ang magiging basis namin to offer our evidence. 'Yun ang magiging basis namin kung sakali na hindi pabor sa amin ang masasabing resolution sapagkat sasabihin namin, 'Teka muna. Bakit magkakaroon ng ipagpapatuloy ang protesta eh base sa report, eh wala naman siyang nakita anumang pagkakamali o anumang dahilan para ipagpatuloy ang nasabing protesta?'" said the veteran election lawyer.

(That should be released because that would be our basis to offer our evidence. It would be our basis in case the ruling in the resolution is against us. We would say, "Hold on. How come the protest will proceed when the report showed there was no proof of anomalies or the report gave no basis for the case to proceed?")

Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez, however, tagged the Robredo camp's motion as "preposterous."

He claimed Robredo supporters have gathered outside the SC as early as September 10, "complete with leaflets depicting figures alleged to have been sourced from a draft decision."

"Mrs Robredo and her cabal should refrain from making a mockery of the legal process, accord the Presidential Electoral Tribunal the highest respect, cease bullying the honorable justices, and stop deceiving the Filipino [people] by requesting from the High Court, through a preposterous motion, [a] copy of something that she already has," said Rodriguez.

The SC earlier ruled the results of the vote recount in the 3 pilot provinces would determine whether or not the rest of Marcos' election case against the Vice President has merit. 

Rule 65 of the 2010 PET rules also states that after examination of the pilot provinces, the tribunal will decide whether to dismiss the protest at that level and affirm Robredo's win, or decide to proceed to further recount.

The PET is expected to soon rule on Caguioa's report on the initial recount assessment, which the justices will tackle again on Tuesday, October 8.  

Robredo beat Marcos by a slim margin of 263,473 votes during the 2016 elections, prompting the latter to allege cheating and file an election case against the Vice President.

Marcos is asking the PET to recount the votes in 36,465 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces in the country, his case's 2nd cause of action. In his 3rd cause of action, Marcos also seeks to nullify the votes of 3 Mindanao provinces – Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao – due to alleged widespread cheating.

In 2017, the High Court already upheld the integrity of the 2016 elections, against Marcos' 1st cause of action.  

Regardless of how the PET would rule on Tuesday, however, Macalintal said Robredo would still remain as Vice President.

"Hindi sasabihing nanalo na si Marcos. Hindi sasabihing natalo na si Vice President. 'Yun lamang ang pag-uusapan – dapat bang ituloy 'yung [recount sa] 27 [provinces] o [base] sa 3 probinsiyang ito'y dapat nang ma-dismiss [ang protesta]. Kaya't anumang mangyari bukas o sa mga susunod na araw, mananatiling Vice President si Ms Leni Robredo," said Macalintal.

(They won't say that Marcos already won. They won't say that the Vice President lost her case either. This is what they would only rule on – if the vote recount in what remains of the 27 provinces should continue, or if the case would already be dismissed. So whatever happens tomorrow or in the coming days, Ms Leni Robredo would remain as Vice President.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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