Daily Tribune - PET creates ballot retrieval team in ‘Bongbong’ poll protest

24 August 2017

By Julius Leonen | Daily Tribune 

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has formed a team to retrieve the ballot boxes which will be utilized for the election protest of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

The team is tasked to locate and examine all ballot boxes in the contested provinces and cities in order to facilitate their retrieval and transport to the SC compound for the revision, according to a PET resolution signed by Clerk of Court Felipa Anama dated August 8 but only released yesterday.

In the resolution, the PET named lawyers Mercedes Mostajo and Linuel Alindogan of the Office of the Chief Attorney as leaders, Joy Jemima Reyes and Jeffrey Raymond Atienza of the Cash Collection and Disbursement Division as special disbursing officers; and Joery Gayanan and/or any official/employee to be recommended by the Office of the Administrative Services as chief security officer and/or assistant chief security officer.

The PET also said the revision committee will be composed of a lawyer, a recorder and a representative each from the camps of Marcos and Robredo.

The camp of the former senator has proposed Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental for the pilot physical recount of the ballots, while the Vice President designated the provinces of Capiz, Sulu and North Cotabato.

Lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, welcomed the PET resolution, saying it is a step forward toward their quest for truth.

“We cannot wait for the actual process to start because it is the only way we’ll be able to ferret the truth. We have always maintained that the ballots themselves are the best evidence in any election protest. This is the reason we have always pushed the early revision of ballots. Unfortunately, we have suffered many delays because the other party keeps opposing our moves to open the ballots... We hope that this will expedite the process so this issue can be settled once and for all. The Filipino people deserve to know their real Vice President is,” Rodriguez, in a statement, said.

Chipping in

Supporters of Robredo have asked the SC to reconsider its decision to turn down their bid to contribute for her counter-protest fee.

Members of the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni have raised nearly P7 million, so far, to help the Vice President, lawyer
Purification Bartolome-Bernabe, legal counsel for the petitioners, yesterday told reporters.

The amount is just P591,840.66 short of the required deposit of P7,439,000 for her counter-protest fee.

The PET, in a resolution dated August 3, decided to junk their petition to intervene by transmitting monetary donations to fund Robredo’s required cash deposit for her counter-protest against former Sen. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos.

Robredo, as a public official, is not allowed by law to accept gifts or donations, unlike Marcos who is now a private citizen.

But the group insisted that the PET Rules do not prohibit payment of the filing fees by someone other than the parties.

“A plain reading of the rule shows that the only critical factor is that payment is made to the tribunal. What is not prohibited by law may be done, unless the act is contrary to morals, customs and public order,” the petitioners stressed.

Both Robredo and Marcos were required to pay cash deposits as required by the PET for their respective poll protests. They were to pay in two installments. The parties both paid the first installment.

They claimed that even Marcos had publicly declared that he had at least 40 friends and supporters who helped him to readily raise his cash deposit.

“There is no doubt that payment of filing fees is burdensome. And yet, it is necessary before a case can proceed,” the motion stated.

“It appears clearly that the Petition for Intervention should be allowed as it raises an issue of transcendental importance and there is no substantial or procedural bar thereto,” it added.