Marcos asks SC justice to inhibit from poll protest vs Leni

Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sought for the immediate inhibition of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa from further participating in his election protest against Vice President LeniRobredo, citing the magistrate and his wife’s undeniably close ties with former President Benigno Aquino III and the vice president.

In an extreme urgent motion to inhibit filed with the Supreme Court, which acts as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Marcos said he recently discovered that 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.

Caguioa is the ponente in Marcos’ election protest. As such, he is in charge of overseeing the progress and ultimate disposition of the election protest.

“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,” the motion stated.

“In light of the clear and convincing evidence of bias, partiality and prejudice inhibited by Associate Justice Caguioa and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of protesteeRobredo, 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 said.

The former senator stressed that he decided to seek for Caguioa’s recusal shortly after seeing the online messages of Caguioa’s wife in her Viber group “AHS77/COLL81 COR”—which clearly depicted her resentment against him and his family.

In one of her Viber messages, Caguioa’s wife wrote “(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.”

Marcos revealed that the series of Viber messages were posted in the Facebook page of former Baguio City Councilor TonyboyTabora on July 13, 2018 at 8:27 am. The video which he posted—titled, “The Conjugal Conspiracy” immediately went viral and garnered 8,800 shares and 312,000 views as Aug. 4, 2018.Marcos said while he was aware of Justice Caguioa’s fraternal bond with Aquino because they were classmates from grade school, high school and college at the Ateneo De Manila University—a fact which led to Caguioa’s appointment to various top posts during Aquino’s presidency, he tried to give Caguioa the benefit of the doubt.

Despite the inordinate delays in his election protest, he tried to remain above the fray out of respect to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, he said.

However, after reading the Viber messages of Caguioa’s wife, he realized that Caguioa would be hard pressed to be impartial and render justice “with the cold neutrality expected from a judge.”

Marcos said that from day 1, Caguioa should have recused himself from participating in his election protest out of delicadeza because he had deep-rooted ties with his former boss’ arch nemesis.

“Regrettably, however, it would appear that Associate Justice Caguioa had other plans because he even took on the responsibility of being the ponente in the said election protest,” he said.

“Given the evident bias, manifest partiality and blatant prejudice shown by Associate Justice Caguioa and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of Noynoy Aquino and protesteeRobredo, 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 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary,” Marcos said.

Marcos emphasized that in a long line of decided cases, the Supreme Court reminded judges that they should avoid not just impropriety in their conduct but even the mere appearance of impropriety because it was important for Judges to conduct themselves in a manner which would avoid any suspicion of irregularity.

The Robredo camp slammed Marcos for what it called his delaying tactics, saying his motion to have Caguioa inhibit himself because of bias was not backed by any “strong and compelling evidence.”—With Rio N. Araja