Duterte to respect Supreme Court decision on VP poll recount

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From left to right: Vice President Leni Robredo, President Rodrigo Duterte, and former Senator Bongbong Marcos

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will respect the outcome of the poll recount for the 2016 vice presidential race, with the Supreme Court expected to make a decision soon.

The high court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has been tackling the poll protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. against incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo as he questioned the results of the May 2016 elections.

On Tuesday, the court said a report on the recount in three pilot areas chosen for ballot revision has been submitted to the top magistrates, which will be the basis of their decision on Marcos' electoral protest.

"The interpretation of the Electoral Tribunal forms part of the law of the land. Kung i-appeal nila eventually to the Supreme Court and it will be sustained or affirmed, we will just follow the law," Duterte said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday night.

"But if the law says that Robredo is the rightful occupant, then we'll just have to follow the final orders of the Electoral Tribunal or the Supreme Court. What is important here is that we follow the law."

Robredo was proclaimed vice president three years ago with a lead of 263,473 votes against Marcos during the May 2016 elections. The recount began in April 2018, two years after Marcos filed his poll protest. There are less than three years left into the vice president's term, which ends in June 2022.

READ: Supreme Court wraps up VP poll recount

Robredo has emerged as the opposition leader and has openly criticized Duterte for his supposed misdeeds in office. Just last month, she called out the President for saying it's alright for government officials to accept gifts in gratitude or small tokens.

Duterte lashed back, even saying that he wants to resign from the presidency but is holding back because the one set to replace him does not know what to do.

"Ang hindi ko matanggap itong si Robredo na abogado. Sinabi, 'you are giving an illegal order'. Ano, mga abogado man kayo ‘yung iba dito. Nandiyan mismo sa Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law. Merong sentence diyan, exception," Duterte added.

[Translation: I cannot accept Robredo's remarks as a lawyer. She said, 'you are giving an illegal order'. Some of you here are lawyers. It's there in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, there's a sentence on exceptions.]

Duterte: PH better off with a dictator like Marcos than VP Robredo

Meanwhile, Marcos has openly supported the Duterte administration. In 2018, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte might keep his word to step down if Marcos — whom the President considers a "qualified" leader — is proclaimed the second-highest official of the land.