Daily Tribune - Scaring off the poll protestant

20 April 2017

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune 

Why does it seem that Vice President Leni Robredo and her counsel, Romulo Macalintal, fear the protest lodged by losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos pushing through, especially as Marcos had successfully coughed up the initial down payment of P36 million for the recount of specific precincts, where he and his camp believe that the polls in these places were marked with fraud?

Just the other day, Macalintal said that the recount may well take over six years since all the election results Marcos is questioning consist of the huge number of clustered precincts which may translate to the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) may take more than six years to finish the recount of all election results disputed by Marcos.

Macalintal cited that a recount on a single municipality even takes a year or two. “We’re talking about 18 provinces and five highly-urbanized cities, or an estimated 700 municipalities and 11 cities,” Macalintal said.

It does look like this is exactly what Leni and counsel hope will happen, since the protest won’t be resolved during the term of the vice president who have been engaging in delaying tactics.

Leni and legal camp have also pointed out that Marcos will be deemed to have abandoned his protest if he accepts a Cabinet post, which is not quite accurate, as the protest filed by then vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas against the winning vice president candidate, Jojo Binay, was hardly resolved by the High Court, but not deemed to have been abandoned despite Roxas’ having accepted posts in the Aquino Cabinet. It was after the 2016 polls that the SC finally came up with the decision, which was no decision at all, since the vice presidential tenure was over.

This has always been the PET’s pattern of resolving these ultra-expensive presidential and vice presidential protests. The PET merely waits for the protestant for say, three years, after which, that protestant usually runs for a lower office, such as the Senate, with the PET then ruling that the protestant had abandoned the protest.

That’s how the PET ruled against protestant Miriam Santiago and Loren Legarda when they, after three years, ran for Senate seat.

However, this time around, despite the a year’s wait, the Marcos protest should go a bit faster than most, since he coughed up the initial installment payment of P36 million, while Leni failed to meet the deadline to pay up for her fees, which, if the PET were strict in their rulings, should find it sufficient reason to disqualify Leni Robredo.

But there really is something terribly wrong about the SC acting as the PET. Why should the PET make it so terribly expensive for a protestant and even the PET to find out whether or not there was indeed electoral fraud committed and finally have the people know whether the person seated in the presidency or vice presidency is the person they had voted for, and not a usurper of the vote?

Why demand hundreds of millions from a protestant and then wait forever to come up with a decision?

Doesn’t the SC, as well as the Filipino electorate, deserve to know whether or not there was electoral fraud committed? If none, then fine. But if fraud was committed, then not only will the ruling of the SC acting as the PET be doing justice to the protestant — win or lose the case — but will also serve to get the Senate and the House, along with the Commission on Elections, work on structural changes in the way elections are conducted, to ensure that vote fraud is, if not eliminated completely, at least minimized greatly.

With the PET fees skyrocketing, just how many more times will the electorate be cheated out of their sovereign will by the PET by not deciding on the protest fast enough.

Almost everybody knows that the automated elections brought about automated poll fraud is committed in every election. Yet the SC has hardly every tried to put a stop to this, even when cases are filed against the vulnerability of automated machines.

Neither do the Senate and the House, despite their claimed oversight committees bother to ensure the absence of automated fraud.

Does it really need hundreds of millions for a protestant to get a case going, and worse, despite paying the fees, the PET still takes forever to come up with a decision?

This is the reason that year after election year, the sovereign will of the people is always thwarted, because with fraud, if left left unchecked, the electorate never knowns whether the candidate who sits in the elective seat is really the choice of the people.