By Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has granted the request of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to designate hearing officers to assist the tribunal in the reception of evidence in his poll protest and in the counter-protest of Vice-President Leni Robredo.
In a resolution made public Friday (June 16, 2017), PET appointed retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug as the chairperson of the panel of commissioners. His members are Atty. Angelito C. Imperio and Atty. Irene Ragodon-Guevarra.
“The commissioners shall decide unanimously to every extent possible, provided that in the event of failure to reach a unanimous decision, the majority decision shall prevail,” the PET resolution stated.
The panel of commissioners, the PET said, shall assist in the reception of evidence pursuant to Rule 55 to 62 of the PET rules.
Under the rules, the panel shall set the date for the reception of evidence of all the parties involved in the protest and counterprotest.
The same panel shall receive the affidavits of witnesses and hear their direct testimonies of witnesses as well as their cross, re-direct and re-cross examination. The hearing commissioners also have the authority to rule on the objects made in the course of the cross-examination subject to review by the PET.
After the hearing, the hearing commissioners shall submit all the evidence presented as well as the transcripts of the proceedings before the PET.
The PET said the chairperson shall receive a compensation of P15,000 per day of hearing or service while the members shall receive a P10,000 per day of hearing or service.
Marcos sought the creation of a panel of hearing officers to expedite the proceedings in his election protest.
The first part of Marcos petition was 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.