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Robredo pays P50K fine for violating gag order
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Robredo pays P50K fine for violating gag order

August 10 ------ Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Thursday paid the P50,000 fine imposed by the Supreme Court for violating the gag order in the electoral protest she is facing. Robredo complied with the order issued by the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is hearing the protest case filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against her. Marcos and Robredo were fined by PET for not observing the sub judice rule, which prohibits both parties from publicly discussing the merits of the case.

The sub judice rule prohibits them and their lawyers from making comments or disclosing information about the pending election protest to “avoid preempting the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.” In a resolution, the PET-composed of all SC justices-said, “Considering that the revision process is about to commence, the Tribunal directs both protestant (Marcos) and protestee (Robredo) to observe the sub judice rule.”

After payment of the fine, Robredo’s lead counsel Romulo Macalintal reiterated that they had no intention of violating the gag order on the proceedings concerning the protest. Macalintal said in a statement they had to “act in self-defense” against the “malicious and unfounded public remarks” made by Marcos and his lawyers.

In its resolution dated June 16, 2018, the PET took “particular note of the statements to the media regarding the condition of the ballot boxes undergoing revision (e.g., recently wet ballots, missing audit logs)” and it said that “such statement were circulated to insinuate fraud and anomalies attended the 2016 national and local elections, which could inevitably lead to the prejudgment of the Tribunal’s disposition of the case.”

But the Robredo camp asked the PET about the specific statements they uttered that supposedly violated the sub judice rule. Macalintal and his co-counsel Maria Bernadette Sardillo filed a manifestation with urgent motion for clarification before the PET upon payment of the P50,000 fine.

“With due respect, the media releases or statements were all made in self-defense against some malicious and/or unfounded public remarks made by protestant Marcos. Hence, our respectful submittal that our statements made in self-defense could not be treated as a violation of the sub judice rule,” they said. “On this score, due process requires that protestee Robredo and her counsels be given or accorded their rights to be informed of the basis of the contempt charge against them. This way, protestee Robredo and her counsel will be guided accordingly,” the motion read.

Like her lawyer, Robredo defended the statements they made in public. “Iyong sa amin, nire-respeto natin iyong order ng court. Pero kapag naghahasik ng kasinungalingan si Marcos, kailangan naming sagutin. Hindi namin puwedeng pabayaan, just because mayroong order kasi siya nga hindi sumusunod,” she said.