Leni-Bongbong face-off nears as PET grants Marcos plea for prelim conference

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InterAksyon-News5 file photos of Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s poll protest case against his 2016 rival Vice President Leni Robredo has taken another step forward after the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, granted the former senator’s motion to set preliminary conference on PET Case No. 005.

The pre-trial or preliminary conference is set to expedite the disposition of a case. It is a meeting of the parties to a case conducted prior to trial and enables the court to check the status of the case and give directions as to how it will proceed.

“(T)he PET has deemed it proper to conduct the preliminary conference of both protests jointly and that the issues raised during the preliminary conference should include issues of the Protest and Counter-Protest,” the tribunal said through a media briefer issued on Wednesday, April 26.

Reacting to the PET’s grant of the Preliminary Conference, Marcos’ spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez, hailed the PET resolution and said: “With this date on sight, finally, Senator Marcos will have his day in court and prove that the Vice Presidency was indeed stolen from him and from the people. It is time for the truth to come out.”

The PET scheduled the conference on June 21, 2017 at 2 p.m. and required Marcos and Robredo to file their preliminary conference briefs containing the following five days before the conference:

1. The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof

2. The simplification of the issues;

3. The limitation of the number of witnesses;

4. The most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, election returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protests; and

5. Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the electoral protest and counter-protest

On Tuesday, the PET thumbed down Robredo’s plea to defer payment of P15 million for the retrieval of poll-related documents needed in her counter-protest case against Marcos.

Last April 17, Robredo asked the PET to allow her to pay the said amount at a later time when Marcos finally proves that he has sufficient basis for his protest.

In its resolution issued April 25, the PET ordered Robredo to pay the cash deposit of P8 million – the first installment of the P15-million electoral protest fee – “within non-extendable period of five days from notice of the resolution.”

On April 10, Marcos’ case against Robredo progressed when the PET ordered him and the Vice President to raise a total of P81.46 million for their poll protest and counter-protest complaints.

The tribunal required Marcos to deposit a total of P66,023,000 for the recounting of poll results from 132,446 precincts or P500 per precinct. While Robredo was required to raise P15,439,000 for the 31,278 precincts included in her counter-protest.

Marcos has already paid the first installment worth P36 million, which he said was raised for him by 40 friends and supporters.

Marcos’ case against Robredo started to move forward last February when the PET ruled that the poll protest complaint against the Vice President was “sufficient in form and substance.”