Marcos wants SC justice Caguioa out of VP poll protest case

MANILA Former senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., on Monday filed a motion for inhibition before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) seeking the inhibition of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa from his election protest case against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Caguioa is the justice in-charge of Marcos' election protest, which is currently pending before the PET.

In a 13-page extremely urgent motion to inhibit, Marcos accused Caguioa of bias towards the yellow brigade as he took note that the magistrate has close ties with former President Benigno Aquino III.

In fact, they were classmates during grade school, high school and college at the Ateneo De Manila University Associate Justice Caguioa cannot deny that he is biased towards the 'yellow brigade' given his close ties with his friend and former boss (Aquino).

Caguioa served as presidential legal counsel and acting Justice Secretary during Aquino's term and was later appointed to High Court in January 2016.

Regrettably, however, it would appear that Associate Justice Caguioa had other plans because he even took the responsibility of being the ponente in the said election protest, Marcos' urgent motion said.

There is an ongoing discord between the Marcoses and the Aquinos, since the time of Marcos' father and namesake, former President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and Aquino's father and namesake as well, former Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.

To say that Noynoy Aquino and his family bear a grudge against the undersigned protestant (Marcos) and his family is an understatement. It is public knowledge that Noynoy Aquino had nothing but harsh words to say about protestant Marcos and would verbally criticize him and his family before, during, and even after the May 2016 elections.

He practically used his office to convince the voting public not to vote for protestant Marcos as vice-president. It is also public knowledge that Noynoy Aquino handpicked protestee Robredo to run against protestant Marcos for the vice-presidential position in the May 2016 elections, Marcos' motion stated.

Given his fraternal relations with Aquino, Marcos said he expected Caguioa to recuse from his election protest as he described himself as Aquino's arch nemesis.

What kept him from formally asking for Caguioa's inhibition the past two years is utmost respect for the SC, sitting as the PET, Marcos explained, adding that he "has been trying to remain calm and collected these last two years.

He said Caguioa's wife, Pier Angela Gel Caguioa was not only an anti-Marcos advocate but was also an ardent supporter of Robredo, having actively campaigned for her during the May 2016 elections.

Accordingly, it is most respectfully prayed by the undersigned protestant that Associate Justice Caguioa immediately RECUSE and INHIBIT himself from participating in any of the proceedings in connection with the above-entitled election protest, Marcos stated.

He added that Caguioa's wife, Pier Angela Gel Caguioa is an ardent supporter of Robredo and campaigned for her in the 2016 elections.

Marcos cited an article circulating online revealing that Mrs. Caguioa remains an avid supporter of Robredo.

Screenshots of viber messages purportedly coming from Mrs. Caguioa in her Viber chat group have purportedly been circulating online and have become hot trending topics of netizens all over the country, the motion read.

These Viber messages allegedly reveal that Mrs. Caguioa was and still is an ardent supporter of protestee Robredo and even actively campaigned for the latter when Robredo ran against Marcos in 2016.

Mrs. Caguioa's resentment towards protestant Marcos and his family is as clear as night and day. In one of her comments, she wrote: '(i)f BBM (Marcos) wins and if he wins because of the youth, it'll be [the] failure of our generation. We were the main catalysts of Edsa 1 and yet we failed to impart its lessons upon the generation that followed us, the motion stated, quoting a purported message of Mrs. Caguioa.

Marcos argued that Mrs. Caguioa's alleged actions fall squarely on Section 4, Canon 4 of an SC administrative case (No. 03-06-01-SC) which prohibits as judge or justice from participating in the determination of a case in which any member of their family is associated in any manner in the case.

In light of the clear and convincing evidence of bias, partiality and prejudice exhibited by Associate Justice and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of protestee, Robredo, the continued presence and participation of Associate Justice Caguioa as the ponente of the above-entitled case is a gross violation of [Marcos'] constitutional right to due process of law."

Robredo: Marcos motion another delaying tactic

Meanwhile, Robredo, through her lawyer Romulo Macalintal, said the motion of Marcos is simply intended to delay the proceedings to suit his political agenda and it is a clear indication that he is losing all hopes in his bid to wrest the vice-presidential post now that the Comission on Elections (Comelec) reiterated that it used 25-percent shading threshold during the 2016 national and local elections.

Now that the Comelec has belied his frivolous argument to use the 50-percent threshold, Mr. Marcos is making noise against a Supreme Court Justice. And this after his spokesperson recently impugned the integrity of the Comelec Commissioners after the Comelec has filed its Comment with the PET, Macalintal said in a statement.

Furthermore, he said it will set a bad precedent for the High Court where a party will seek an inhibition of one of the Supreme Court members if things don't go the party's way.

He noted the motion appears to have been prepared by his lawyer but only Marcos signed it and this shows that even his lawyers could not sign the motion, that his lawyers themselves do not believe that he has a valid ground for voluntary inhibition.

Indeed, the motion is not supported by any strong and compelling evidence in proving the supposed bias. It is basic that mere conjectures and speculations cannot justify the inhibition of a Judge or Justice from a judicial matter. It is unfortunate that the motion is based on mere speculations, whims and caprices of Mr. Marcos, he added.

The PET is currently holding a manual vote recount that covers Marcos' protest's three pilot provinces: Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Oriental. All three are known bailiwicks of Robredo.

On June 29, 2016, Marcos filed the protest, claiming that Robredo's camp cheated in the automated polls in May that year.

In his protest, Marcos contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clusters, covering 27 provinces and cities.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos' 14,155,344 votes. (With reports from Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency