Voting unanimously, the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), dismissed “the entire electoral protest” that former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed against Vice President Leni Robredo to wrestle the country’s second highest post.
Here are four things you need to know about the issue:
1. What is the protest about?
Marcos filed an election protest before the PET on June 29, 2016 after losing to Robredo by a “slim” margin of 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.
His protest had three causes of action, as cited by the tribunal in an October 2019 resolution:
In his protest, Marcos, son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., said “if not for the attendance of electoral fraud, anomalies, or irregularities” in the protested precincts, he “would have received the highest number of votes and emerged as the winning candidate,” as cited in the PET October 2019 resolution.
The tribunal dismissed the petition’s first cause in August 2017, finding it “meaningless and pointless” since it could be determined only by a manual recount of all votes in all precincts, which, the tribunal said, Marcos “did not intend” to do.
On the former senator’s second cause of action, the tribunal found in October 2019 that, after a recount of the votes in the three pilot provinces (Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental) that Marcos selected, Robredo’s lead increased by about 15,000 votes, from a margin of 263,473 to 278,566.
In its Feb. 16 resolution, the PET likewise dismissed Robredo’s counter-protest against Marcos, in which she contested the election results in 7,547 clustered precincts in 13 provinces due to alleged vote-buying, threats, and intimidation, among others.
2. Why was the protest dismissed?
The tribunal dismissed Marcos’ election protest (PET Case No. 005) for “lack of merit,” according to an updated press briefer uploaded by the SC PIO on the high court’s website. The full resolution, however, has not yet been publicly available as of Feb. 17.
3. Is the decision final?
Hosaka did not confirm during his Feb. 16 briefing if the decision may still be appealed, saying he “can only provide you (reporters) with information given to [him].”
Under Rule 69 of the 2010 Rules of the PET, a party may still file a motion for reconsideration within 10 days “after receipt of a copy (of the decision) by the parties or their counsel.” If no such motion is filed within this period, the decision becomes final.
A party may file only one motion for reconsideration. If this is denied, the decision will become “final and executory” after the “personal service” on the parties of the “resolution disposing of the motion for reconsideration.”
Lawyer Theodore Te, former SC spokesperson, said in a tweet responding to ABS-CBN reporter Mike Navallo that, while the decision may still be subject to such motion, “the unanimous vote makes it extremely difficult to reverse.”
“Even if some [justices] voted to concur only in the result, this only means they had different reasons but the same conclusion,” Te added.
4. How did Robredo and Marcos respond to the dismissal?
In a media forum on Feb. 16 following the announcement, Robredo welcomed the tribunal’s resolution, saying the “affirmation [her office] received from the PET today will allow us to focus more on the more important work on (sic) serving our people.”
Marcos’ camp, on the other hand, claimed that, despite the tribunal’s unanimous dismissal, it “has yet to decide” on his third cause of action — the annulment of votes in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.
The SC, in an updated press briefer on the resolution, made no such distinction. It said the tribunal “unanimously dismissed the entire electoral protest.”
In an interview on ANC Headstart on Feb. 17, Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, said the former senator’s camp is approaching the situation “with utmost caution and prudence until we get hold of the official copy (of the resolution).”
He said even with the SC’s updated briefer on the matter, it is not clear if the resolution covers Marcos’ third cause of action, adding that the “electoral protest” has taken on a “strict legal meaning” that pertains “solely to the manual recount and judicial revision.”
Ma. Bernadette Sardillo, one of Robredo’s counsels, in a separate ANC Headstart interview that same day, rebuffed this claim, saying the dispositive portion of the resolution quoted in the updated SC briefer made it “clear” that the “entire electoral protest” was dismissed. She added that Marcos can avail himself of “remedies available to him under the Rules and under the law.”
In a press briefing on Feb. 16 hours after the SC announcement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Malacañang “respect[s]” the decision and that it “respects also that the camp of [former] senator Bongbong Marcos has a further remedy of moving for reconsideration.”
Barrage of disinformation
Since 2017, VERA Files Fact Check has published 31 fact checks debunking disinformation on social media about the Marcos poll protest issue. Ten of the social media posts and website articles verified falsely claimed the former senator’s victory.
Six, or 19.35%, made false or unsubstantiated reports that Robredo “cheated” during the elections, while four inaccurately presented her as having violent reactions toward the case and her political opponent. (See Marcos poll protest prompted years-long battle with falsehoods on social media)
Supreme Court, Press Briefer, Feb. 16, 2021
GMA News, LIVESTREAM: SC, sitting as PET, junks ex-Sen. Marcos’ poll protest vs. VP Robredo – Replay, Feb. 16, 2021
ABS-CBN News, Presidential Electoral Tribunal dismisses Marcos’ poll protest vs Robredo | ANC, Feb. 16, 2021
Rappler, Supreme Court junks Marcos protest vs Robredo, Feb. 16, 2021
Supreme Court, P.E.T. Case No. 005 Resolution, Oct. 29, 2015
Supreme Court, 2010 Rules of Presidential Electoral Tribunal, May 4, 2010
Theodore Te official Twitter account, “While it can still be subject of an MFR…,” Feb. 16, 2021
VP Leni Robredo official Facebook page, LIVE: Vice President Leni Robredo issues a statement on the unanimous decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, dismissing the electoral protest of defeated candidate Bongbong Marcos, Feb. 16, 2021
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. official Twitter account, Statement of Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Spokesperson of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Feb. 16, 2021
Supreme Court, UPDATED PRESS BRIEFER on PET CASE No. 005, Feb. 16, 2021
Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Spox Roque Virtual Press Briefing February 16, 2021, Feb. 16, 2021, watch from 1:04:10 to 1:04:24
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)