By Tetch Torres-Tupaz | Inquirer.net
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has asked the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to expedite the proceedings in his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In his 7-page Urgent Ex-Parte Motion, Marcos asked PET to designate at least three hearing officers who will assist the Tribunal during the preliminary conference.
Marcos, through his counsel George Erwin Garcia, said the designation of at least three hearing commissioners “will better facilitate an orderly, simplified and expeditious disposition of this electoral contest considering that there are three causes of action raised in this election protest.”
The first part of the Marcos petition is about the Automated Election System (AES).
He said the vote counting machines (VCM) which was one of the components of the automated system supplied by Smartmatic has no “demonstrated capability” nor was it ever successfully used in a prior electoral exercise either in the Philippines or in any other country.
The second part of his petition consists of the more “traditional” modes of cheating like vote buying, pre-shading, intimidation and failure of elections, among others.
He specifically asked for the reopening of ballot boxes in each of the 36,465 clustered precincts in Cebu, Province of Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo Province, Bohol, Quezon Province, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, 2nd District of Northern Samar, Palawan, Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City.
Marcos is also asking the PET to annul the election results in Lanao Del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao where the ballots have been pre-shaded and recount of 22 provinces and five cities.
The third part of the protest focused on the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script / program) into the Transparency Server as well as the effects brought about by the unauthorized change.
PET has already set the preliminary conference June 21. Garcia said it would be most important that a hearing officer be assigned for each cause of action “so as not to muddle the proceedings” as they intend to present a specific set of witnesses and documentary exhibits per cause of action.
He also reiterated the need for Marcos’ election protest to be decided with dispatch and pointed out that the designation of 3 separate hearing officers would certainly aid the Tribunal in resolving the case 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,” Garcia pointed out.
He added that the designation of hearing officers prior to the conduct of the preliminary conference was consistent with the summary nature and preferential status of election protest cases.
“In a long line of decided cases, this Honorable Tribunal has consistently ruled that an election case, unlike an ordinary action, is imbued with public interest since it involves not only the adjudication of the private interests of rival candidates but also the paramount need of dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the real choice of the electorate with respect to who shall discharge the prerogatives of the office within their gift.”
“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.” Garcia concluded.