Solicitor General Jose Calida and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday submitted separate motions before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to force Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen to inhibit from the election protest filed by Marcos.
In their motions, Calida and Marcos quoted from The Manila Times stories exposing the bias of Leonen in the case.
Marcos is demanding a recount in the 2016 vice presidential election, which he lost to Maria Leonor Robredo.
Marcos filed his motion in the morning while Calida sent a messenger to file his in the afternoon.
In his pleading, Calida explained that he was joining the case in pursuant of the solicitor general’s mandate as the “Tribune of the People.”
“The People need to know who the actual winner is in the vice-presidential race. It is unfair for the sitting Vice President to be accused of cheating and equally unfair for the protestant to give him false hope in the guise of calculated yet very slow progress of the protest,” Calida said.
It was the first time the chief government lawyer has gotten involved in an election protest case.
The case has been pending at the PET for more than four years. Marcos filed his protest on June 29, 2016.
In his motion, Marcos asked for the inhibition of Leonen and the reassigning of the case.
Marcos is represented by former cabinet members of his father, the late President Marcos — former justice minister and solicitor general Estelito Mendoza and former defense minister and senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Marcos said Leonen’s “open hatred” for the Marcos family made the chances of resolving the protest in a fair and impartial manner slim.
In his motion, Calida presented The Times’ front page series on October 12 and October 13 as proof that Leonen had prejudged the case.
The Times had been shown by a court insider the 25-page draft reflections of Leonen, which he circulated on July 10, 2017 to the court’s justices.
The document showed that Leonen wanted to dismiss the protest outright because Marcos did not specify the alleged acts of fraud, anomalies or irregularities committed the precincts covered by the protest.
In his motion, Marcos said “Leonen must recuse himself from being the ponente and hearing the case, because his partiality has been duly established with reasonable certainty by his prior dissents and statements. After all, a Justice must not only be impartial. He must also appear to be impartial.”
The voluntary inhibition of Leonen “will give life to the spirit of the Canons regarding inhibition of judges. Stated otherwise, a little delicadeza will go a long way in preserving the integrity of the High Court,” he added.
Calida, meanwhile, accused Leonen of branding the Marcoses as plunderers.
“Justice Leonen gave the impression that the Marcoses are guilty of the crime of plunder.
Yet a quick perusal of Republic v[s] Sandiganbayan from where he purportedly sourced his ad hominen arguments reveals that the Supreme Court in said case merely ordered the civil forfeiture of treasury notes and bank accounts of foreign foundations. And while the word ‘kleptocracy’ was, by way of allegation, used by petitioner Republic in said case, said word and the other similar words were never used by the Supreme Court,” Calida said.
He said Leonen’s scornful remarks in opposing the burial of the former president in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani “established his hatred towards the Marcos family, to which protestant belongs.”
Marcos insisted that it was bad enough that Leonen sat on the protest for almost a year.
“To make matters worse, when he finally decided to do something, it was for the sole purpose of asking the Comelec and the OSG to comment on the protest,” he said.
If Leonen was unsure of the PET’s jurisdiction, “then he should have made inquiries a year ago, when the case was first raffled to him in October 2019,” he said.
He clarified that he is not asking for a declaration of a failure of elections but an annulment of the polls.
Marcos, who lost by 263,473 votes, accused Robredo of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as the preshading and misreading of ballots.
By: Jomar Callas, TMT
This article was first published by The Manila Times