SC releases copy of decision on Marcos’ electoral protest

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021   •   735

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has released a copy of its decision junking the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Based on the 91-page decision of the SC Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), Marcos’ “allegations appeared bare, laden with generic and repetitious allegations and lacked critical information.”

It also junked the third cause of action of the electoral protest which is the annulment of elections in three provinces: Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, and Basilan.

After the recount, Robredo got a total of 14,436,337 votes, while Marcos got 14,157,771 total votes.

Last February, the SC dismissed Marcos’ electoral protest; however, the former Senator said it does not include their third cause of action.

According to the tribunal, Marcos also failed to prove there was an anomaly during the elections and that Robredo was behind it. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Sara Duterte takes drug test

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Wednesday said she underwent a drug test and her results yielded negative for narcotics.

In a statement, the vice presidential bet said she took the test upon the request of her running mate, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“Today, I took a drug test that yielded negative of any illegal substances. This test, I took voluntarily upon the request of my Uniteam partner, Senator Bongbong Marcos, to support the call for transparency as aspiring public officials seeking the trust of our fellow Filipinos,” she said.

Sara shared the results of her drug test, which showed that she was negative for several illegal substances.

On Tuesday, Marcos announced that he took a cocaine test and submitted the result to law enforcement agencies.

This was after President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that a presidential aspirant is using cocaine.

Duterte did not give any name.

“Uniteam BBM-Sara’s stand against illegal drugs is united and unequivocal. This can be seen from both our negative tests as well as our common stance against the proliferation of illegal drugs and the need for effective measures of prevention, rehabilitation, and enforcement,” Mayor Sara said.

She also stressed “as important as the war against illegal drugs is, other compelling issues continue to challenge our country’s ability to provide long-term safety and security for our people.”

“Therefore, it is crucial in this electoral season that we focus on the substantial qualifications of those that seek to lead our country,” she said.

“Particularly, that we examine our presidential and vice presidential candidates under the lens of competence and experience – an infallible ability to manage crisis through policy and practice built up through years of executive, legislative, and administrative exposure; a proven track record of delivering security and development; and a clear and tested platform for job security and sustainable livelihood,” she added.

Palace welcomes SC ruling junking plea to compel Duterte to defend PH territory

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition to compel President Rodrigo Duterte to defend the Philippine territory against China’s claims and incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

“We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the petition for mandamus filed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

Nograles was referring to an SC ruling dated June 29 but only uploaded on its website on November 22.

In a unanimous decision, the SC en banc dismissed the petition for mandamus filed by lawyer Romeo Esmero for “utter lack of merit.”

In his petition, Esmero claimed that it is the president’s ministerial duty to defend the national territory, which includes the West Philippine Sea as established by the UN Arbitral Tribunal.

He also asserted that “there is unlawful neglect or inaction by the president in the performance of his constitutional duty resulting to the detriment of ‘paramount public interest involve (sic) the livelihood of all of our poor Filipino fishermen and their families who are living in the coastal areas of the many islands facing the West Philippine Sea.’”

Esmero also suggested suing China before the International Criminal Court “to demand payment and damages for taking the Kalayaan Islands.”

“Our ruling in De Lima v. Duterte is clear: the president is immune from suit during his incumbency, regardless of the nature of the suit filed against him. Petitioner named President Duterte as the sole respondent in this case. For this reason, this suit should be dismissed outright,” the SC said.

The high court also noted that the petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus “would still not lie in petitioner’s favor.”

A mandamus petition seeks to compel action and performance of a pre-existing duty, a ministerial function on the part of a board, officer or person, provided that the petitioner has a well-defined and clear right warrant the grant thereof.

“Indeed, the president is the guardian of the Philippine archipelago, including all the islands and waters embraced therein and all other territories over which it has sovereignty or jurisdiction. By constitutional fiat and the intrinsic nature of his office, the president is also the sole organ and the authority in the external affairs of the country,” the ruling read.

The SC said that for all the petitioner’s posturing, he failed to point any law that specifically requires the president to go to the UN or the ICJ to sue China for its incursions into the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

“Neither has he shown a clear and unmistakable constitutional or statutory provision which prescribes how the president is to respond to any threat (actual or imminent) from another State to our sovereignty or exercise of our sovereign rights,” the court said.

The SC said that former President Benigno S. Aquino was under no obligation to file a case against China through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013.

“Taking China to binding arbitration was risky, as it could potentially damage relations with a major trading partner. On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal issued an award overwhelmingly in favor of claims by the Philippines and ultimately bringing some clarity to the overlapping claims in the area,” the court noted.

The SC said that if President Duterte now sees fit to take a different approach with China despite said ruling, “this does not by itself mean that he has, as petitioner suggests, unlawfully abdicated his duty to protect and defend our national territory, correctible with the issuance by this Court of the extraordinary writ of mandamus.”

“Being the Head of State, he is free to use his own discretion in this matter, accountable only to his country in his political character and to his own conscience,” the SC added.

The 9-page ruling was penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda. All 13 other justices concurred with the decision.

With this ruling, Malacañang said that the “executive power, indeed, rests on the President, including the peaceful and stable conduct of foreign affairs. Matters within the President’s discretion cannot be compelled by mandamus.”

The Palace also maintained that the president is the chief architect of foreign policy and this is affirmed by the latest decision of the High Court.

“Having said this, the president has firmly kept his position to continue the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Malacañang said.

 

Bongbong Marcos says he took drug test after Duterte’s cocaine-user claim

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he underwent a drug test following President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that a presidential aspirant is using cocaine.

In a statement, Marcos said he took the test on Monday and submitted the result Tuesday morning to law enforcement agencies.

He also reiterated his camp’s earlier statement that he doesn’t feel being alluded to by the president’s remarks.

“In spite of that, I believe it is my inherent duty as an aspiring public official to assure my fellow Filipinos that I am against illegal drugs,” he said.

“This is why I took a cocaine test yesterday and the result was submitted this morning to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Office of the Chief of the PNP, and the National Bureau of Investigation. Let me reiterated my assurance to my fellowmen, especially the supporters of BBM-Sara Uniteam, that I am, and will remain, a vigilant anti-illegal drugs campaigner,” he added, referring to his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

He then called on his fellow political aspirants to take the drug test “to ensure our people, particularly the young generation, that no elected leader is into illegal substances.”

The Commission on Elections earlier said that candidates in the upcoming elections are not compelled to submit themselves to mandatory drug testing, citing a Supreme Court ruling that stated a previous order as unconstitutional. (with reports from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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