Bongbong Marcos seeks to re-raffle election case

By Fernan Angeles

CLAIMING impartiality of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. personally filed a manifestation and motion for the Supreme Court to re-raffle an electoral protest case involving him and Vice President Leni Robredo.

In his manifestation, the former senator also asked Leonen not to participate in proceedings related to his election protest against Robredo even as Marcos asked the high tribunal, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to order the re-raffle of the protest to another justice and to resolve all pending matters in the case.

“If truth be told, the scathing pronouncements of Associate Justice Leonen in a number of landmark cases, his previous employment history as well as the manner in which he has handled the election protest thus far will prove that he will not be a fair and impartial ponente in the instant electoral protest,” the court filing states.

Marcos through his lawyers said that Leonen, also cited Leonen’s impartiality in the case over the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where he allegedly “displayed palpable bias against the entire Marcos family.” Marcos is challenging Robredo’s election victory in 2016, alleging fraud.

The protest has been pending for four years. Robredo’s term ends in 2022.

At an online press conference, Marcos said the case would not be resolved in time if Leonen continues to sit as the justice-in-charge.

“If Justice Leonen continues to sit as the justice-in-charge, for sure it will be delayed, for sure. At least ‘pag wala na si Justice Leonen, kung mag-inhibit siya, may pag-asa na hindi na ma-delay. May pag-asang matatapos in time,” he said.

“I hope that Justice Leonen will really go into a period of self-examination and to see and to convince himself whether or not he has been biased or he has been fair. In my view he has been completely biased, he has been completely partisan, he has prejudged this case a long time ago, and that is why we filed this,” he added.

In 2018, Marcos also sought the inhibition of then-justice-in-charge Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. The PET denied his motion for “utter lack of merit” and “sternly warned” him and his lawyers that “any unfounded and inappropriate accusation made in the future will be dealt with more severely.”

Caguioa used to be in charge of the case. According to Marcos’ motion, the case was raffled to Leonen in October 2019. One part of Marcos’ protest was a recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces he chose: Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

After the recount, the PET found that Robredo’s lead over Marcos widened by some 15,000 votes.

Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules allows a protestant to choose not more than three provinces that “best exemplify” the fraud that he alleges happened in an election.

Once ballots there are examined, the tribunal may dismiss the case if it is convinced that the protestant will “most probably fail to make out his case.”

Only two justices — Caguioa and the now-retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio — voted to dismiss the case at the time.

The majority of the PET decided to release the report on the results of the recount to the parties and ordered them to comment.

The tribunal also told Marcos and Robredo to submit their position on Marcos’ bid for the annulment of election results for vice president in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

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