FORMER Senator and defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. paid P36 million as part of the first installment required for the proceedings of his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Marcos paid the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), for the cost of retrieval of contested poll materials on Monday, April 17 — the deadline for payment of the first tranche.
“I hope this compliance we have done [with] the SC order will go a long way of getting the process started,” Marcos said.
In a chance interview, Marcos said he was able to raise the P36 million through the help of his supporters.
“Buti na lang may mga kaibigan ako na nagmagandang loob (It’s a good thing that I have friends who were generous),” Marcos told reporters.
He added, “Sila ay naniniwala na tama at makatarunguan ang aking protesta kaya naman sila ay nagkaisa at inipon nila ang kanilang maibibigay (They believe that my protest is right and just which is why they united and saved what they could give).”
In June of last year, Marcos filed an electoral protest against Robredo before the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). He accused the vice president of committing massive poll fraud after she won the seat only by a slim margin.
“Mag-iisang taon na mula nung nakaraang halalan hanggang ngayon hindi pa alam ng taong bayan kung sino ba talaga ang nanalo bilang bise president noong nakaraang halalan (It has almost been a year since the last election and until now the public still does not know who won as vice president during the last elections),” he said.
The SC has ordered Marcos a cash payment of P81.46 million to proceed with his election protest against Robredo, which is payable in two tranches. Marcos has to settle another P30 million on or before July 14.
In the same order, Robredo was asked to pay P15.44 for her counter-protest — P8 million for the first tranche and P7.43 million for the second.
Robredo, however, failed to pay the partial payment of P8 million and instead, filed a manifestation earlier in April 12.
According to Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s lawyer, the vice president’s camp will pay the counter-protest fee only after Marcos has been able to prove that there was indeed election fraud.
“Kailangan patunayan muna ni Mr. Marcos na talagang meron po siyang ma-rerecover na mga boto. Kailangan siya muna ang magpa-deposit, siya muna ang magpa-bukas ng mga balota at makita natin kung talagang may basehan ang kanyang protesta (Marcos needs to prove first that he could recover votes. He should deposit first and open the ballots first so we could see if his protest really has basis),” Macalintal said.
“E bakit kami magde-deposit ng P15-million pero pagkatapos naman pala ay wala naming mangyayari? So iyan ang hinihingi naming sa Korte Suprema (Why would we deposit P15 million if after this, nothing will happen? This is what we are asking to the Supreme Court).”
Following Robredo’s failure to deposit the first installment fee in time, Marcos’ camp said it would seek the dismissal of her counter-protest.
“We complied with the ruling of the tribunal and they did not. So I think they missed their chance and we will move for the dismissal of their counter-protest,” Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, told ANC.
He added, “That way, the whole process will be able to run its natural course unimpeded with unnecessary delays being filed by the protestee.”
Rodriguez also accused that the manifestation of Robredo’s camp was just part of the latter’s tactics in delaying the electoral protest.
Under Section 33 (b) of the PET rules, protestants are required to make a cash deposit amounting P500 per contested precinct, “if they require the bringing of the contested ballot boxes and election documents to the Tribunal”.
Marcos questioned 39,221 clustered precincts which are composed of total 132,446 established precincts. Robredo, on the other hand, contested 8,042 clustered precincts equivalent to 31,278 established precincts.