By Ina Reformina | ABS-CBN News
Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to assign at least three hearing officers to assist the tribunal in the resolution of his election protest against Vice-President Leni Robredo.
In a 7-page motion, Marcos, through counsel George Garcia, said the designation of hearing officers "will better facilitate an orderly, simplified and expeditious disposition of this electoral contest considering that there are three (3) causes of action raised in this election protest."
Marcos' protest raises the following issues:
- flawed Automated Election System (AES);
- failure of elections in several provinces in Mindanao; and,
- the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic's Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script / program) into the Transparency Server on election day.
Marcos' camp said it is "most important" that a hearing officer be assigned for each cause of action "so as not to muddle the proceedings."
Marcos intends to present specific witnesses and documentary support for each cause of action.
Marcos also stressed that assigning hearing officers will help resolve the protest "in a prompt and efficient manner."
"Public interest demands that this electoral controversy be resolved with dispatch to determine once and for all the genuine choice of the electorate for the contested position. The designation of 3 hearing commissioners, as suggested by protestant Marcos, shall surely aid this Honorable Tribunal in achieving its mandate to ensure a prompt and expeditious resolution of this election protest.
"Moreover, it is neither fair nor just to keep in office for an uncertain period one whose right to it is under suspicion. It is imperative that his claim be immediately cleared not only for the benefit of the winner but for the sake of public interest, which can only be achieved by brushing aside technicalities of procedure which protract and delay the trial of an ordinary action," Marcos' motion read.
The designation of hearing officers prior to the conduct of the preliminary conference, set on June 21, 2017, is consistent with the summary nature and preferential status of election protest cases, Marcos explained.
Marcos' camp also pointed out that his protest is already suffering from delays, as compared to the election protest of Liberal Party stalwart Manuel Roxas against former Vice-President Jejomar Binay, where the PET scheduled Roxas' preliminary conference barely 2 months after he filed his election protest against Binay.
"In the case of Marcos, however, his preliminary conference was only recently scheduled on 21 June 2017 over a year after he filed his election protest against Robredo," Marcos' motion read.
The margin of votes between Robredo and Marcos was merely 263,473 votes.