Robredo pays P8M for retrieval of contested election ballots

VICE President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo has paid the P8 million cash deposit required of her by the Supreme Court (SC) acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for the retrieval of the ballots used in the last May 9 polls.

Robredo, with her legal team, went to the SC Tuesday morning to comply with the PET's order before it proceeds with her counter-protest against former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

The SC last Tuesday directed the Vice President anew to pay the first installment of her protest fee following the tribunal's denial of her motion to defer the payment of her cash deposit.

She was required to pay a total amount of P15.44 million in two tranches.

The first tranche needs to be settled on or before April 14 and the second not later than July 14.

Both Robredo and Marcos failed to settle the first installments on the given deadline.

Marcos paid the first installment required of him by the PET amounting to P36.02 millon last April 17. He needs to pay another P30 million before the second deadline set by the PET.

According to the tribunal, the cash deposits would be used for the retrieval of the contested ballots in 163,000 precincts in the country.

Robredo in the last polls won against Marcos by only 263,473 votes.

Robredo's victory which was marred by anomalies according to Marcos has prompted the loosing vice president to file a poll protest with the SC.

'Money from personal funds'

Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's legal adviser, said the Vice President's cash deposit came from her personal funds and from relatives Vicente Hao Chin, Pablito Chua and Rafael Bundoc, all relatives of her late husband, Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Robredo, who earlier said Marcos had used alleged ill gotten wealth to pay his cash deposit, admitted that it was difficult for her to raise the P8 million required by the SC.

"Nabalitaan po natin na minamaliit po tayo dahil wala tayong pera, minamaliit tayo dahil saan ko daw po kukunin? Saan ko raw po kukunin ang ating idedeposito, at babantayan kung saan ito galing," Robredo said.

"Totoo po na wala kaming pambayad, isang pagpapakita na kahit mahabang panahon nanungkulan [ang asawa ko], hindi [siya] nagnakaw ng pera ng bayan," she added.

"'Yung akin pong tanong, masasabi po ba yan ni Ginoong Marcos? Na hindi nagnakaw 'yung pamilya niya sa kaban ng bayan?" she further added.

She said that she ran as Vice President to prevent the Marcoses from returning to power.

"Kaya nandito po ulit tayo ngayong umaga, pinapakipaglaban ulit 'yung matagal na nating pinaglalaban. Alam po natin 'yung kasaysayan na pinagdaanan natin at alam natin na ayaw na natin 'yung balikan," she said.

"'Yung laban po nila, mas grabe pa sa laban ko, na 'yung kanilang mga karapatan ay talagang pinagdusahan, pinaghirapan, at hanggang ngayon nandito pa rin sila, pinapakipaglaban ‘yung kanilang karapatan, naniningil sa dapat na ibigay sa kanila. Nalulungkot po tayo na imbes na ibigay ito sa mga biktima, ginagastos ulit para makabalik sa kapangyarihan," Robredo added.

According to Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensiyon at Aresto (Selda), a group of human rights violation victims during the martial law imposed by the late president Ferdinand Marcos, there are around 75,000 martial law victims in total.

Last January, the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (HRVCB) promised to give compensation in the second quarter of the year to the first 40,000 victims who suffered during the Marcos' regime.

Claimants will share a fund that will come from the P10 billion ill-gotten wealth awarded by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997. (SunStar Philippines)
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