COA calls on SC to return P13 million Robredo, Marcos VP poll protest deposit

The Commission on Audit (COA) called on the Supreme Court, sitting as a Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to return P13.318 million worth of cash deposits made by then Vice President Leni Robredo and then former Senator but now President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. because Marcos’ poll protest against Robredo’s 2016 vice presidential win was dismissed by the PET in February 2021.

In its annual audit report on PET, COA said that the P13.318 million unreturned cash deposit or bail bonds payable was broken down to P8.16 million for Robredo and P5.15 for Marcos.

COA cited that Rule 33 of the 2010 Rules of the PET states that the cash deposit should be applied by the Tribunal to the payment of all expenses to the bringing of ballot boxes and election documents or paraphernalia to the Tribunal and returning them after the case is terminated and to the compensation of members of the revision committee.

“[PET] Management was unable to return to the contending parties the unutilized cash deposits totaling P13.318 million after the Tribunal rendered its Decision as required under Rule 33 of 2010 Rules of the PET. When the Tribunal determines that the circumstances demand, it may require additional deposits. Any unused cash deposit should be returned to the protestant or counter-protestant after complete termination of the protest or counter-protest,” COA said.

“The inability of [PET] Management to return the unutilized excess cash deposits of the protesting parties is not in conformity with Rule 33 of the 2010 Rules of PET, and places PET in unnecessary indebtedness from a private individual and the President of the Philippine Government,” COA added.

In response, the PET said that its Accounting Division had submitted the schedule of the balance of cash deposits of both parties to the PET Ad Hoc Committee.

In addition, the SC said PET issued a resolution dated March 8, 2023 containing the following:

approval of the Liquidation Reports submitted by the Fiscal Management and Budget Office (FMBO); order for the release of the remaining cash deposits of both parties authority for the FMBO to process the release of the remaining balances; and tasking the FMBO to advise the protesting parties to claim their respective deposits.

COA also recommended that the SC notify the protesting parties of the unexpended balance of their deposit, and to withdraw the same by virtue of the termination of the case on the revision made by PET.

In addition, COA said the Tribunal’s FMBO should process and return the unutilized cash deposits of the respective protestants and counter-protestants in compliance with AM No. 10-4-29-SC, Rule 33 of the 2010 Rules of PET.

COA said PET agreed to implement its two recommendations.

The PET unanimously dismissed Marcos’ protest vs. Robredo in February 2021 via a unanimous 15-0 vote.

Robredo beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential polls. Marcos, however, beat Robredo in the 2022 Presidential elections. — DVM, GMA Integrated news

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