By RITCHEL MENDIOLA | Asian Journal
THE Philippine Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on pending issues related to the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In its latest resolution, PET ordered the Comelec to file its comment within 20 days on Marcos’ third cause of action in his electoral protest, which seeks to annul the elections in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to alleged terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters, and pre-shading of ballots.
PET also ordered the Comelec and the OSG to comment on whether the tribunal had the power to declare the annulment of elections even without special elections, as well as declare the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections.
In addition, PET asked the Comelec and the OSG whether the tribunal’s declaration of failure of elections, and an order for special elections, will infringe the Comelec’s mandate under the Constitution.
The Comelec was likewise ordered to report to the PET if the petitions for failure of elections were filed in the three Mindanao provinces, if the petitions were granted or denied, and whether special elections were held in the areas with failure of elections, and the results of those special polls.
Marcos’ camp, for its part, welcomed the recent development but is “saddened” that the issue was passed onto the Comelec anew.
“We are happy because our cause of action, which they said is not included in the election protest, the setting aside the annulment of setting aside the annulment of the election results in Maguindanao, Basilan and Lanao del Sur, is validated,” Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ lawyer, said in Filipino.
“We have extreme reservations and are saddened because the issue is given back to Comelec,” he added.
Rodriguez also expressed concern over the protest being “under real threat of becoming moot and academic.”
“Instead of directly proceeding with the technical examination and forensic investigation he lamentably added another layer that would cause tremendous delay in referring the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General and the Comelec to file their respective Comment,” he said.
“Considering the very thin time left in the term of the contested position, our protest is under real threat of becoming moot and academic by events leading to 2022 such as the filing of candidacy, campaign and national election that would reduce the clamor and right of the people to know who really won the vice presidency illusory,” Rodriguez added.
Robredo’s camp also welcomed the latest resolution.
“The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo welcomes the latest PET order as this will help fast-track the resolution of the election protest,” Atty. Beng Sardillo, Robredo’s lawyer, said.
“We will comply with the High Tribunal’s order and wait for the comments of the Comelec and the Solicitor General on the pending matters,” she added.