Caguioa draft decision leaked to pressure Supreme Court

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IT is astonishing how the Yellows — incontestably rejected by the nation as demonstrated in the past senatorial elections when they failed to get a single seat — are still trying to impose their will on the country.

This time, they are pressuring the Supreme Court, which is the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) that will decide on Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s electoral protest against Maria Leonor Robredo for the vice-presidential seat, to bow to the apparently rushed draft decision by Justice Benjamin Caguioa to dismiss the case.

The Yellows are doing this by leaking Caguioa’s draft to their operators in social media, and to a Philippine Star columnist who summarized its contents in his column yesterday. Caguioa’s draft could have come only from him, as Supreme Court staff are mostly career people who wouldn’t dare risk their positions. Caguioa appears to have rushed the report, submitting it September 10, in the hope that the Supreme Court will vote on it, before Justice Francis Jardeleza, another former Aquino official who would likely support his recommendation, retired on September 26. The high court, however, decided to postpone deliberation on Caguioa’s draft, as the justices still needed to study the case.

Marcos had filed last year a petition, dismissed by the PET, for Caguioa to inhibit himself as ponente, or member in charge of the case, as he was not only former President Aquino’s justice secretary but his school buddy from grade school to college.

Not only that, Marcos claimed that Caguioa’s wife Pier-Angela Caguioa actively campaigned for Robredo in 2016, and her messages in a Viber group show her partiality towards the Vice President. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Caguioa is regularly briefing Robredo on what’s happening with case, with Robredo in turn briefing her lawyers.

Caguioa (center) with his former boss (left) and wife. And he decides if the Yellow vice presidential candidate really won?

That Caguioa had finished his draft report was first reported by the stridently anti-Marcos online newsletter Rappler three weeks ago. Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal appears to have been given a copy of the draft as he was nearly ecstatic, claiming that it dismissed Marcos’ protest, and even pontificated that the “Supreme Court cannot deviate from the recommendations or findings.” The news site quoted Macalintal as saying that the 14 other members of the Supreme Court must also uphold the report.

The most questionable aspect of the recount for precincts in three provinces — as “pilot cases” — was the claim by former Comelec chairman Andres Bautista (who fled the country after impeachment charges were being prepared against him early last year) that ballots that were at least 25 percent shaded in the circles indicating the voter’s choice, were valid. For all elections since 2010, the “threshold” was 50 percent.

Marcos had claimed that thousands of ballots counted for Robredo in the three provinces scrutinized by the PET had shading of less than 25 percent. Analysts have claimed that ballots with less than a 50-percent shading indicated that they had been filled up in a rush, most probably by an operative filling up hundreds of ballots.

Causes of action
What bolsters the claim that the Caguioa draft had been leaked to Robredo’s camp was the delight of her lawyer Macalintal and of that Philippine Star columnist that it meant the end of Marcos’ electoral protest.

But Marcos filed three other “causes of action,” each of which could invalidate Robredo’s slim margin of 263,473 votes, and which are totally independent from the examination of votes in a set of precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental. These are the following:

First, that the certificates of canvas were not authentic and came from tampered vote counting machines. Indeed, I myself remember that the talk of the town when the votes were being counted in May 2016 was that at 7:20 p.m. on the first night of the voting, Marcos was leading by one million votes. But after several hours when no election results were received, Marcos’ lead dwindled by a uniform ratio of 40 to 1, and by 3 a.m. the next morning, this had been totally wiped out.

Second, that there was massive fraud in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao such that there was no valid election in those places.

And third, that there was the malfunctioning of vote counting machines in 22 provinces and five highly urbanized cities.

The PET hasn’t even started investigating these “causes of action.” How could the Robredo camp claim that the Marcos protest has been dismissed?

Marcos’ claims that Caguioa is biased for Robredo cannot be so easily dismissed.

Marcos said in April 2017, during the Holy Week when banks were closed, the PET gave him only two days to pay his P36 million protest fee or risk having his protest dismissed. But his oppositor Robredo did not pay on the deadline set by the PET. Instead, she was given an extension and until now she has not completed payment for her counter-protest.

Another example cited by Marcos of Caguioa’s alleged bias was when he ordered Marcos to produce 8,000 witnesses in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan within a period of only five days, non-extendable. He said his team didn’t sleep just to be able to comply with the order but Caguioa merely deferred action on his resolution.

Especially for such a case that would test the integrity of our electoral system and would determine who is rightfully the country’s second highest official, the Supreme Court should have appointed to investigate the case a member without any hint of doubt about his objectivity.

This is especially so, as most Filipinos had not really given Robredo any chance of winning. She was unknown outside the Bicol region. Why, despite the Yellows’ attempts to portray her late husband Jesse as the epitome of good government, the only image of him that stuck was that he preferred wearing rubber sandals, hardly a portrayal that would electrify the nation’s voters.

In contrast, much of the country had rejected the demonization of the dictator Marcos by the Yellows since his ouster in 1986, as demonstrated by the strong showing of his wife Imelda and his close associate Eduardo Cojuangco in the 1992 elections, and the election of his daughter and then his son to the Senate in various elections. The Ilocano provinces still idolized the late strongman while his wife Imelda could rely on the support of the Waray-speaking areas in the Visayas. In short, “Marcos” was a household name, the most important quality to have to win a Philippine national election.

It defies logic how an unknown lady could have garnered 14.4 million votes, just 263,473 votes over Marcos. The only rational explanation was that the hugely financed Yellow cheating machine became useless in the tsunami of the Duterte phenomenon in the 2016 elections, with Yellow strategists deciding at the last minute to throw their resources and cheating mechanisms for the what’s-her-name candidate to win.




Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

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