By Jaime Pilapil | The Manila Times
THE Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) has called on the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to expedite election protest cases, amid supposed delays in the poll fraud case filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Philconsa issued the statement Thursday night following its monthly meeting at Manila Golf Club in Makati City.
At the same, election watchdog Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem) said it would file charges against Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials for their alleged failure to ensure clean and honest elections in 2016.
Teresita Baltazar, TanDem president, said her group was about to complete the documentation of the criminal cases to be filed against the Comelec commissioners, as she called for the scrapping of automated elections.
Baltazar was accompanied by TanDem chairman Evelyn Kolayco, who had exposed supposed flaws in electoral processes.
Glenn Chong, former representative of the lone district of Biliran, discussed these supposed flaws during the Philconsa meeting, accompanied by Corazon Akol of the National Movement for Free Elections, former president of the Philippine Computer Society Edmundo Casino, and technology expert Lito Averia.
Chong, a lawyer, urged the PET to rush the protest case filed by Marcos Jr. against Robredo.
“On the average election protests covering the presidential polls take about three to four years to get resolved, and in all cases, the protest is overtaken by the next elections,” he explained.
Often, the petitioner runs for another post and wins, rendering the protest moot and academic, he said.
“For the vice presidency, the case filed by Marcos has not gotten past the preliminary conference stage one year to the day after it was filed. We have not gotten forward yet,” Chong noted.
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes, is questioning election results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five highly urbanized cities.
The former senator claims to be a victim of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities,” citing the pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded digital storage cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote-counting machines, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes and “undervotes” for the position of vice president.
Chong said several cases had been filed against Comelec and automated election equipment provider Smartmatic since 2010, but most of them have yet to be acted upon, if not overtaken by succeeding elections.
“The mafia in Comelec, with Smartmatic, always got away with their lies because our government agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and even the Supreme Court have failed to act on our complaints,” he said.
Election experts also vowed to block the use of existing automated election scheme, claiming the previous three polls were marred with irregularities, particularly the 2016 vice-presidential race.
Akol said their group would come up with a bill for a new automated scheme, and that they were in talks with lawmakers, particularly Sen. Richard Gordon, to have it sponsored.
Chong told Philconsa members: “I never believed in automated elections. I’ve always been for hybrid elections, meaning manual voting, manual counting, but automated transmission. We are preparing that and will support amending the present automation law.”