PET orders Robredo, Marcos to explain recount comments

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for disclosing information on the vote recount.

The PET, in a resolution made public on Thursday, April 12, issued a show cause order against Robredo and Marcos for publicly discussing information involving the election protest for the 2016 vice presidential race.

The tribunal gave both parties 10 days to submit their explanations.

In a resolution dated February 13, the PET ordered the two parties to strictly observe the sub judice rule—a prohibition on discussing a case that is pending in court. This was reiterated in another resolution dated March 20.

“Despite these stern directives of the Tribunal, several news reports have shown that the parties, their counsels and/or representatives, have nonetheless continued to disclose sensitive information regarding the revision process to the public, in clear violation of the aforementioned resolutions,” the PET said in its latest directive.

“To be sure, the statements of the parties with respect to matters or concerns already referred to or pending resolution of the Tribunal, as well as statements or remarks pertaining to the integrity of the revision process are within the clear ambit of the sub judice rule,” it added.

The revision of ballots begun last week, on April 2. On the first day of the recount, Marcos’ camp revealed to the media that wet ballots were discovered among the clustered ballots from the municipality of Bato, Camarines Sur. 

Marcos’ spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, further claimed that there were missing audits and ballots pre-shaded for Robredo.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, representing Robredo, maintained that wet ballots and missing audit logs are not evidence of irregularity in an election.

Robredo’s camp also hit Marcos for supposedly trying to taint the integrity of the 2016 elections with their claims.

“In this regard to preserve the sanctity of the proceedings, both parties are hereby directed to show cause and explain why they should not be cited in contempt by the Tribunal,” the PET said in its latest directive.

In his poll protest, Marcos accused Robredo of committing massive electoral fraud during the May 2016 polls. Robredo won the vice presidential race with only 263,473 more than Marcos. 

Camarines Sur is among the three pilot provinces Marcos tagged in his poll protest. The other two were Iloilo and Negros Oriental. The result of the revision on the three pilot provinces will determine whether the recount should proceed to cover the remaining 31,047 contested clustered precincts.

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