PET resets deliberation of Marcos’ poll protest

Vice President Leni Robredo (left) casting her vote during the mid-term elections in May. (VPLR)

The Supreme Court (SC) has moved the deliberation of the electoral protest of former Senator Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo to 15 October 2019.

Keith Hosaka, the chief of Public Information Office (PIO) of the SC, said the SC sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) did not take action on the vice presidential election protest case during Tuesday’s en banc session of the high bench.

The report of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa last week was also deferred by the court in connection with the Marcos poll protest.

On 9 September Caguioa submitted his report on the results of the recount in Marcos’ three pilot provinces Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur but the SC has yet to vote on it.

The result of the vote recount will determine whether Marcos’ protest will be dismissed or not.

In case there is a big discrepancy between the official tally and figures from the revision, the PET will expand the coverage of the recount to 24 other provinces and cities, covering 30,000 poll precincts.

Rule 65 of the PET states that: “If upon examination of such ballots and proof, and after making reasonable allowances, the Tribunal is convinced that, taking all circumstances into account, the protestant or counter-protestant will most probably fail to make out his case, the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.”

The electoral protest filed by Marcos in June 2016 questions the win of Robredo as she led Marcos with 260,000 votes in the vice presidential race.

Marcos claimed in his protest Robredo committed massive cheating but the latter denied the accusation.

The protest had three causes of action: annulment of the proclamation, manual recount of ballots, and annulment of the election results for the vice president’s post in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.

However, the tribunal upheld the integrity of the automated election system and junked the first cause of action in 2017, leaving the former senator with two.

Marcos had moved for the PET to order the Commission on Elections to examine voter identification documents from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan, but the court deferred action on the matter upon finding it “premature.”

But Robredo’s camp has asked PET last June to immediately resolve the protest, citing the result of the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces chosen by Marcos.

p: wjg