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Is VP Leni Robredo Set To Keep Her Post?

Is VP Leni Robredo Set To Keep Her Post?
Vice President Leni Robredo answers questions from the media on Sept. 16, 2019 after attending a Senate hearing on the proposed budget of her office for 2020. Photo by Geremy Pintolo, The Philippine STAR

After more than three years, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal will rule on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo on Oct. 8.

The voting was supposed to take place last Tuesday, Oct. 1, but was deferred for further deliberations.

Robredo has been seeking closure on the questions over the legitimacy of her victory in the 2016 elections against Marcos. In an interview with The Philippine STAR in July, Robredo expressed belief that the election protest was ripe for decision after the revision of ballots or recount of votes in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental was completed last March.

She stressed that it was Marcos who had picked the three pilot provinces, “but it was proven that there was no cheating there.” 

In a manifestation filed last June, Robredo’s camp formally asked the PET to rule on pending motions pertaining to the recount of ballots in three pilot provinces so as to proceed with the resolution of the case three years after the vice presidential race.

“So now, we are asking the court to decide already because it was the agreement from the very beginning, that if he would not be able to prove his claims of cheating in the pilot provinces that he chose, the case would be dismissed,” Robredo said during the interview.

The Vice President is confident that she will emerge victorious in the PET case, saying, “we really didn’t cheat and that was proven in the past months during the recount.” 

Robredo was proclaimed vice president in 2016 with a margin of 263,473 votes against Marcos. Her camp revealed that after the recount of votes from the three provinces, the lead rose to 279,215 or an additional margin of 15,742 votes.

Further reading: The VP knows her place

Protest resolution

Here’s a timeline of the developments in the Robredo versus Marcos case before the PET:

May 30, 2016: Leni Robredo is proclaimed vice president after winning the race in the May 9, 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.

June 29, 2016: Marcos files an election protest against Robredo. He contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.

July 12, 2016: PET issues a precautionary protection order directing the Commission on Elections to preserve and safeguard ballot boxes, and orders Robredo to submit her answer.

Aug. 15, 2016: Robredo files an answer and counter-protest.

Sept. 9, 2016: Marcos files a manifestation asking PET to expunge Robredo’s answer, arguing that it was filed out of time, and also to set the case for preliminary conference. Both parties file various primary pleadings in support of their protest and counter-protest.

April 25, 2017: PET sets preliminary conference on June 21, 2017 but resets it to July 11, 2017 as it also orders parties to file briefs.

June 16, 2017: Both parties submit preliminary briefs.

July 10, 2017: Marcos files motion for technical examination of voters’ list in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao

July 11, 2017: A preliminary conference is held.

Aug. 29, 2017: PET orders retrieval of ballot boxes in three pilot provinces (Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental), which should have been issued 48 hours upon receipt of answer/counter-protest or on Aug. 17, 2016.

Feb. 13, 2018: PET issues gag order on parties after media releases on updates in their respective protests based on insiders’ information.

April 10, 2018: PET sets a 50-percent shading threshold in recount.

April 19, 2018: Robredo appeals tribunal’s ruling on 50 percent threshold.

June 26, 2018: PET fines both camps P50,000 each for violating gag order and the sub judice rule for disclosing ‘sensitive’ information on the ongoing recount.

July 4, 2018: Solicitor General Jose Calida files manifestation supporting the position of Marcos for use of the 50 percent threshold.

July 26, 2018: The Comelec files a comment supporting Robredo’s position for use of the 25 percent threshold.

Aug. 6, 2018: Marcos seeks inhibition of member-in-charge, Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, over association with Robredo’s political party.

Aug. 28, 2018: PET rejects plea of Marcos for inhibition of Caguioa.

Sept. 18, 2018: PET reconsiders ruling on 50-percent shading threshold in recount, grants Robredo’s appeal and sets 25 percent threshold.

April 2, 2018 to Feb. 8, 2019: PET conducts manual recount and revision covering three pilot provinces — Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental — with a total of 5,418 clustered precincts.

Feb. 8, 2019: The revision committee report is submitted by revisors to PET.

June 11, 2019: Robredo files motion to resolve the protest, citing figures that her lead even increased by 15,000 votes after the recount in three pilot provinces.

July 2, 2019: PET denies Robredo’s motion, saying her figures were speculative. It also deferred action on Marcos’ motion for technical examination in three other provinces, saying it is premature since proceedings only cover three pilot provinces

Sept. 9, 2019: Caguioa submits his report to the PET.

 Oct. 1, 2019: PET resets voting to Oct. 8.

This is the fifth election protest filed before the PET under the 1987 Constitution.

The first four were filed by senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago against Fidel Ramos over the 1992 presidential election; actor Fernando Poe Jr. against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2004 presidential election); former senator Loren Legarda versus ex-senator Noli de Castro (2004 vice presidential race); and former interior secretary Manuel Roxas versus former vice president Jejomar Binay (2010 vice presidential election).  

The PET has junked all of these previous electoral protests.