Rejects Robredo’s motion to dismiss his case; Orders retrieval of ballot boxes
For the nth time, the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has upheld the election protest of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. as it ordered the retrieval of ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia in his three pilot provinces in order to start the revision and recount process.
In a 34-page Resolution dated August 29, 2017, the PET dismissed for lack of merit the Motion for Reconsideration filed by former Camarines Sur Rep. Leonor “Daang Matuwid” Robredo seeking to stop Marcos’ election protest saying she merely restated her arguments in her Verified Answer which had already been passed upon by the Tribunal when it upheld the sufficiency in form and in substance of the protest.
The finding on the sufficiency in form and substance of Marcos’ protest was first announced by the PET in a press conference on July 12, 2016 when it ordered Robredo her Summons. When Robredo moved for its dismissal in her Answer, the Tribunal upheld its findings in a Resolution dated January 24, 2017 saying its sufficiency in form and substance of Marcos’ election protest was beyond question with the issuance of the Summons. However, this did not stop Robredo who again moved for its dismissal in a Motion for Reconsideration.
But the Tribunal finally put the issue to rest when it stated, “(f)inally, it is well to stress that the Motion for Reconsideration essentially restates the arguments contained in protestee’s Verified Answer and Counter-Protest, and these have already been duly considered and passed upon by the Tribunal in the Resolution dated January 24, 2017. The Tribunal finds no cogent reason to discuss these matters any further,” the PET stated.
Instead the Tribunal ordered the retrieval of all the ballot boxes and election paraphernalia in Marcos’ three pilot provinces, namely Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental to start the revision and recount.
“Thus in consonance with Rule 65, the Tribunal hereby orders that the retrieval of ballot boxes and other election documents, revision of ballots and reception of evidence can already begin with, but shall first be confined to, only the provinces that have been designated by protestant, namely Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental,” the Tribunal ordered.
It also granted the motion of Marcos to decrypt and print the ballot images from the SD cards of the three pilot areas in order to help the Tribunal in the prompt disposition of the protest and assist Marcos in the preparation of the recount proceedings and the presentation of his evidence.
“The Tribunal resolves to partially grant protestant’s Motion for Decryption and Printing of ballot images dated June 1, 2017 only insofar as all the precincts in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental are concerned and direct Comelec to inform the Tribunal of its recommended procedures, logistics, schedule and estimated costs for the activity within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of the Resolution,” stated.
The three pilot provinces were chosen from the 27 provinces and highly urbanized cities listed in his election protest because they best exemplify the frauds of irregularities raised in the protest.
To expedite the disposition of the case, the Tribunal also limited Marcos’ election protest to just two causes of actions – his second and third causes of action.
Marcos has three causes of action in his election protest. The First Cause of Action calls for nullification of the results of the vice presidential race because of a “flawed Automated Election System (AES). The Second Cause of Action is for the revision and recount of all voters’ receipts, elections returns and other pertinent documents, records and equipment in 27 provinces and highly urbanized cities used in the May 2016 elections.
For his third cause of action, Marcos is seeking to annul the election results in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan on the ground of the more “traditional" modes of cheating like vote buying, pre-shading, intimidation and failure of elections, among others.
In dismissing his First Cause of Action, the Tribunal explained that it did so to speed up his case because it has been averred that even if Marcos proves the first cause of action, it would not mean he won the elections because this could only be determined by a manual recount of ballots in all precincts. “Thus, the First Cause of Action may be dispensed with for judicial economy and prompt disposition of this case,” the PET stated.
Lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, said while they would have preferred for the Tribunal to look into the anomalies in the implementation of the AES under the first cause of action, they respect and would abide by the Tribunal’s decision in the interest of expediency. “We respect the Tribunal’s decision and we will abide by it. We are glad that the Tribunal shares our desire to expedite the disposition of this case. This issue needs to be resolved at the soonest possible time in the interest of all the Filipino people — especially those whose votes were not counted,” Rodriguez said.
He added, “(w)e have the case exactly where we wanted it to be : the conduct of manual recount as well as the judicial revision and annulment of election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan.”
The resolution, added Rodriguez, will not however stop them from revealing the many “sins” of Smartmatic to the Filipino people.
“This will not stop us from exposing the many sins, manipulations, fraud and irregularities committed by Smartmatic in our election system in other forums. Our fight against these conspirators will not stop with this decision. One way or another, the truth will come out,” Rodriguez said.