The Manila Times - Marcos seeks more hearing officers to hasten poll protest

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times 

FORMER senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to designate three hearing officers to help expedite the resolution of his poll protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

In a motion, Marcos said the assignment of hearing officers prior to a preliminary conference next month 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,” the Marcos camp said.

Marcos told the PET that the election protest must be concluded soon “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.”

The high tribunal had set a preliminary conference for the election recount on June 21. In the preliminary conference, the Marcos and Robredo camps are expected to discuss the issues to be resolved, the list of witnesses and the evidence to be presented, as well as the schedule of hearings and the revision of ballots.

Marcos, who lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes, accuses the camp of the former Camarines Sur representative of benefiting from “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote-counting machines, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes for the position of vice president in the 2016 polls.