Marcos seeks inhibition of Justice Leonen in his protest vs. VP Robredo

Published November 9, 2020, 11:09 AM

by Rey Panaligan 

Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. on Monday sought the inhibition of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen in the election protest he filed in 2016 against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.


Marcos cited Leonen’s “palpable bias and partiality against the entire Marcos family.” Leonen is the SC’s justice-in-charge or ponente of the election protest case.

His plea was contained in a motion he filed with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) which is composed of all SC justices.

Marcos also asked the PET to resolve all pending incidents related to his protest in his motion.

Citing examples against Leonen’s alleged bias and partiality, Marcos told the PET of the justice’s dissenting opinion in his father’s, the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, burial case at the SC.

He said Leonen’s dissenting opinion stated, among other things, that  “former President Ferdinand E. Marcos presided over a regime that caused untold sufferings for millions of Filipinos.”

He also cited a published report that Leonen, as early as 2017, had expressed a view that the election protest should be dismissed outright.

“Given the fact that the Supreme Court is a collegial body, it would be unfair and unjust for the other members… to be tainted by the apparent impropriety of Associate Justice Leonen,” he said.

Last September, the PET required both the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on various issues pending with the tribunal.
In its comment, the Comelec said that while the PET has the power to annul election results, the tribunal has no authority to declare failure of elections or direct the holding of special elections.

The Comelec pointed out that it has the “exclusive jurisdiction” to declare failure of elections or to call for special elections.

Its stand differed slightly from that taken by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which said that while the PET has the power to annul election results or declare failure of elections, the tribunal has no power to order the holding of special elections.

The election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo in 2016 has three causes of action — annulment of the proclamation of Robredo; recount and revision of ballots in 36,465 protested clustered precincts; and annulment of election results for Vice President in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan on the ground of alleged terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters, as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts.

In his protest, Marcos named the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental as his pilot areas for the recount and revision of ballots.

In its Oct. 15, 2019 resolution issued after the recount and revision of ballots in the three pilot provinces, the PET said:

“Thus, based on the final tally after revision and appreciation of the votes in the pilot provinces, protestee Robredo maintained, as in fact she increased her lead with 14,436,337 votes over protestant Marcos who obtained 14,157,771 votes. After the revision and appreciation, the lead of protestee Robredo increased from 263,473 to 278,566.”

In his memorandum filed early this year, Marcos asked the PET to proceed with the process of annulling the results of the elections in three Mindanao provinces.

He also asked the tribunal to re-examine the results of the appreciation of ballots conducted in his pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

In her memorandum, Robredo asked the PET to dismiss Marcos’ protest for his alleged failure to present any substantial recovery of ballots in the three pilot provinces.