By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times
THE Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has finally ordered a preliminary conference on the election protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In a “summer” en banc session in Baguio City on Tuesday, the court granted Marcos’ motion and set the preliminary conference on June 21.
“Considering, however, that Rule 3 of the 2010 PET Rules mandates 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 (Marcos’) and the Counter-Protest (Robredo’s),” the tribunal said.
In addition, the PET also mandated the camps of Marcos and Robredo to submit preliminary conference briefs, which shall contain the following:
The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and documents to avoid unnecessary proof; simplification of the issues; limitation of the number of witnesses; the most expeditious manner for the retrieval of ballot boxes containing the ballots, elections returns, certificates of canvass and other election documents involved in the election protest; and such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the election protest and counter-protest.
The high tribunal has already junked the motion for reconsideration of Robredo to clarify her counter-protest fees, giving her an ultimatum to pay up.
Robredo was ordered to pay the initial cash deposit of P8 million required to process her counter-protest within five days from the notice to comply. Her camp has vowed to pay the initial fee.
In his protest, Marcos is assailing the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts. He paid for a recount in 36,465 clustered precincts, and wants the results annulled for the remaining 2,756.
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes, is claiming “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loading secure digital cards with data, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote-counting machines, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes or “undervotes” for the position of vice president.
The Marcos camp welcomed the PET decision to proceed with the case.
“With this date on sight, finally, Senator Marcos will have his day in court and prove that the vice presidency was indeed stolen from him and from the people. It is time for the truth to come out,” Marcos lawyer Vic Rodriguez said.