By Rey G. Panaligan | Manila Bulletin
The Supreme Court (SC), acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has set for June 21 the preliminary conference jointly on the protest and counter-protest in the 2016 vice-presidential election filed by former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo, respectively.
A preliminary conference, pleaded earlier by Marcos, would commence the formal proceedings in the election cases.
It would determine stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof, the simplification of the issues, the limitation of the number of witnesses, the most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, election returns, certificates of canvass, and other election documents involved in the case.
In a resolution issued in Baguio City last Tuesday, the PET said the preliminary conference would be held “without prejudice to the Tribunal’s resolution of all remaining pending incidents.”
Based on published reports, at least two of the pending incidents in the election cases are the motions of Marcos to dismiss the counter-protest against him and the reduction of his cash deposit.
A summary of the resolution released by the SC’s public information office (PIO) stated:
“The PET granted protestant’s (Marcos) motion for the setting of the preliminary conference and has set this case for preliminary conference on 21 June 2017 at 2 in the afternoon, without prejudice to the Tribunal’s resolution of all remaining pending incidents.
“Considering, however, that Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules mandate that the rules are to be liberally construed to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the Tribunal, the PET has deemed it proper to conduct the preliminary conference of both protests jointly and that the issues raised during the preliminary conference should include issues of the Protest and the Counter-Protest.”
The resolution also stated that at least five days before June 21, Marcos and Robredo are required to submit their Preliminary Conference Briefs to the Tribunal and to furnish each other copies of the briefs which shall contain the following:
1. “The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof.
2. “The simplification of the issues.
3. “The limitation of the number of witnesses.
4. “The most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, election returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protest.
5. “Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the election protest and counter-protest.”
Marcos lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in last May’s vice presidential election.
In his election protest filed in June last year, Marcos challenged the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five cities in the country.
Robredo filed her counter-protest covering 31,278 precincts.
Earlier, the PET had required Marcos and Robredo to pay P66.223 million and P15.43 million, respectively, for the retrieval of the election materials, their turnover to the tribunal, and the recount of the votes in the election protest and counter-protest.
But since Marcos had deposited with the tribunal P200,000 upon the filing of his protest, he has to pay P66.023 million – P36.023 million he deposited with the SC last April 17 and the balance of P30 million to be paid on or before July 14.
Marcos’ payment had been accepted by the PET.
Robredo’s cash deposit of P15.43 million was required by the PET in her counter-protest covering 31,278 precincts.
Instead of paying P8 million as required, Robredo asked the PET to hold in abeyance her payment. She asked the PET to clarify its order directing her to pay the amount, saying that the rules do not require her to deposit the amount yet.
But in a resolution issued last Tuesday, the PET denied Robredo’s plea to defer the payment of the P15.43 million cash deposit.
Instead, the PET directed Robredo to submit P8 million within five days from receipt of the notice. The balance of P7.43 million should be paid on or before July 14 as stated in the March 21, 2017 resolution of the PET.
At the same time, the PET deferred action on Marcos’ motion to dismiss the counter-protest filed against him until the compliance by Robredo of the cash deposit payment.