‘Biased’ Caguioa must inhibit from poll protest vs Robredo–Bongbong

In File Photo: Former senator and vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. dishes out a PowerPoint presentation on how he was allegedly cheated of his victory in his electoral battle with Vice President Maria Leonor G. Rodredo.

FORMER Sen. Ferdinand “Bong-bong” Marcos Jr. on Monday filed a petition before the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), seeking the inhibition of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa from his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a 13-page extremely urgent motion to inhibit, Marcos listed several grounds in seeking Caguioa’s inhibition, including what he claimed was a recently discovered proof that would reinforce his allegation that the magistrate is biased against him.

Justice Caguioa is the ponente in Marcos’s election protest, thus, he is in charge of overseeing the progress and the resolution of the election protest.

Marcos told the PET that his camp recently found out that Justice Caguioa’s wife, Pier Angela “Gel” Caguioa, was not only an anti-Marcos advocate but was also a  staunch  supporter of Robredo,  having actively campaigned for  her in the May 2016 elections.

The former senator cited the supposed screenshots of Viber messages purportedly coming from Mrs. Caguioa  in her Viber chat group, which have been circulating online.

The series of Viber messages were part of a video, titled “The Conjugal Conspiracy,” posted in the Facebook account of former Baguio City Council Tabora on July 13, 2018, which has  gone viral with 8,8000 shares and 312,000 views.

Marcos also noted that an article on the viral video was posted in an online article, which he submitted as evidence to support his motion to inhibit.

He noted that, in one of Mrs. Caguioa’s  comments in the Viber chat group, she said :” [i]f BBM 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 Viber messages reveal that Mrs. Caguioa was still an ardent supporter of protestee Robredo and even actively campaigned for the latter when she ran against protestant Marcos in the May 2016 elections,” the motion read.

Under Section 4, Canon 4 of Administrative Matter. No. 03-05-01-SC prohibits a judge or justice from participating in the determination of a case in which any member of his/her family is associated in any manner with the case.

While he was aware of Justice Caguioa’s fraternal bond with former President Benigno S. Aquino III because they were classmates from grade school, high school and college at the Ateneo de Manila University which led to his appointment in the Supreme Court, Marcos said he still tried to give the former the benefit of the doubt.

“Given the evident bias, manifest partiality and blatant prejudice show by Associate Justice Caguioa and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of Noynoy Aquino and protestee Robredo, the undersigned protestant is left with no other recourse but to file the instant motion for the inhibition pursuant to the mandate of Canons 3 and Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary,” Marcos pointed out.

Marcos also cited the PET’s several resolutions that tend to delay the resolution of his election protest and show bias in favor of Robredo.

These include the PET resolution issued on March 21, 2017, requiring Marcos to pay a cash deposit of P66.22 million for his election protest.

He noted that the resolution was kept from the public and was only received by his lawyers on April 10, 2017—a few days before Holy Week, thus, leaving their camp with only four days or until April 14, 2017, to pay half of the month or else his protest would be dismissed.

On the other hand, Marcos noted that Robredo was allowed to defer payments on the second installment of her cash deposit and, up to this day, she has not paid the installment.

Marcos added that Justice Caguioa kept on postponing the preliminary conference of the election protest.

He said it took the PET almost one year after he filed his protest on June 29, 2016, to hold the preliminary conference of the election protest.

In contrast, Marcos said it only took the PET just two months and 22 days to schedule the preliminary conference on the election protest filed by former Sen.  Mar Roxas against former Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Marcos also cited the Pansol outing of several PET staff,  which was attended by Roberdo’s party revisors.

The former senator said he asked PET to investigate the said “highly irregular and unethical” outing on July 9, 2018, but two days after Robredo’s camp filed a reply and said that an investigation was already conducted and that the personalities involved in the outing were already meted out penalties.

Marcos said on July 12, 2018, that he received a PET resolution dated July 10, 2018, denying his request to investigate the Pansol, Laguna, because PET has already commenced and concluded its investigation. As of Monday, Marcos said he had yet to receive a formal notice or information on the concluded investigation.

“Due process necessarily requires that a hearing be conducted before an impartial and disinterested tribunal because unquestionably, every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. All the other elements of due process, like notice and hearing, would be meaningless if the ultimate decision would come from a partial and biased judge,” the motion read.

“In light of the clear and convincing evidence of bias, partiality and prejudice inhibited by Associate Justice Caguioa and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of protestee Robredo, the continued presence and participation of Associate Justice Caguioa as the ponente of the case is a gross violation of the undersigned protestant’s Constitutional right to due process of law,” it added. The ongoing recount covers three pilot provinces—Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental—covering a total of 5,418 clustered precincts.

Depending on the results of the recount, the PET will decide whether or not to proceed with the recount on a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in the protest of Marcos.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, due to alleged massive cheating perpetrated by the camp of Robredo in the May 2016 national polls.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes, or 263,473 more than Marcos’s 14,155,344 votes.


Image Credits: Roy Domingo

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