THE electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has started to roll with the former paying on Monday P36 million, his first installment for the P66 million protest fee required by the Supreme Court (SC).
The High Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, gave Marcos until April 17, 2017, to deposit the money with the tribunal.
The P30 million balance should be paid on or before July 14.
The court also ordered Robredo to pay P15.7 million.
Marcos personally went to the court to pay P36,023,000. The check was received by Jeffrey Raymond Atienza, Assistant Officer in Charge of the Cash Collection and Distribution Division of the Fiscal Management and Budget Office.
“My close friends contributed to raise the P36 million, even supporters who accompanied me here have chipped in because the time given to raise the P66.2-million was not enough,” Marcos said.
Hundreds of Marcos loyalists waited for the former lawmaker outside the Supreme Court building on Padre Faura St. in Manila.
“Hanggang ngayon hindi pa alam ng taumbayan kung sino ba talaga ang nanalong bise presidente noong nakaraang halalan. Sa palagay ko ang isang taon ay masyado nang mahaba (Up to this day, the people do not know who really won in the vice presidential election. I think one year of waiting is enough),” Marcos told reporters.
“Kaya sana ang ating mga magigiting na justice ay simulan na ang proseso ng paghuhusga kung sino ba talaga ang nanalo sa nakaraang halalan. Ipagpapatuloy natin ang protesta (I hope that the justices will now start the process of resolving this case. We will continue with the protest). I hope this compliance we have done to the Supreme Court’s order will go a long way to getting the process right,” he added.
Forty friends and supporters of Marcos said they pooled their resources to help the former senator raise the needed amount on time.
Marcos, through his lawyer George Erwin Garcia, received the SC’s order dated March 21, 2017 on April 10, 2017 requiring him to pay P66 million.
The P200,000 filing fee paid by Marcos when he filed the protest had been deducted from the cost requirement. “Since President-Mayor Joseph Estrada declared Wednesday (April 12) as a non-working holiday for all government employees in Manila, the offices of the Supreme Court were closed on Wednesday (April 12), Holy Thursday (April 13) & Good Friday (April 14). Thus, if Bongbong were to comply with the April 14 deadline that would give him less than 48 hours to come up with P36 million. In order not to delay the proceedings any further, we decided to pool our resources so that the cash deposit of P36 million would be paid,” friends of Marcos said in a letter submitted to the SC.
“We have done this because it is our heartfelt wish that the election protest be resolved with dispatch,” the added. “Ten months is too long for this open wound to fester. This insecurity and instability is not good for the country.” Marcos was required to pay P500 for each of the 132,446 precincts where a recount will be held.
In his complaint, the former senator assailed the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts. Based on the Commission on Elections data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of 132,446 precincts.
Robredo had sought the dismissal of the poll protest but the high tribunal dismissed her petition. The PET junked Robredo’s claim that the grounds cited by Marcos in his complaint are just a “series of wild accusations, guesses, and surmises.”
Recently, the PET ordered the preservation of the “automated election equipment and records such as Vote Counting Machines (VCM), Consolidation and Canvass System ()CCs) units, Secure Digital (SD) cards (main and back up), and the other data storage devices in all of the 92,509 clustered precincts used in the May 2016 elections.”
Marcos lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes. He claimed that he was a victim of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as preshading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning VCMs, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of VP.
Robredo’s camp on Monday said Marcos should pay P185 million for his election protest.
Romulo Macalintal, the lead counsel of Robredo, noted that Marcos’ dues should be P185 million because Marcos is protesting the results of all 369,138 established precincts.
“Mr. Marcos should pay P185 million because it is worth P500 per established precinct not a clustered precinct, a decision already made by the PET. In fact, the technology provider Smartmatic is already billing the Comelec to the tune of P2.9 billion because the Comelec failed to return the leased VCMs on time due to the pending Marcos case,” Macalintal said.
He added that while Marcos is questioning the election results in 662 municipalities, he was only able to provide detailed specification of his poll fraud allegation in 57 municipalities.
Macalintal said Robredo will not pay the fee required by the tribunal just yet.
“He is the one filing a protest, so he should make the first cash deposit. We have to see first if the votes recovered from the recount due to Marcos’ protest will be enough to overcome the Vice President’s winning margin,” the lawyer said.
“While payment of the cash deposit would have to be complied with, the Robredo camp asked the PET to allow her to comply with the order of payment at a later time because we can’t pay the cash deposit unless the merits of Mr. Marcos’s election protest has been determined,” Macalintal explained. “We believe that we should not pay the cash deposit at this point, in accordance to the PET rules.”