By Edu Punay | Philstar.com
Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has again asked the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to hasten the resolution of his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a seven-page motion filed last week, the late dictator’s son sought the immediate decryption of ballot images from the clustered precincts of 30 contested provinces.
He also asked the tribunal to print the ballot image from the Secure Digital cards or other data storage devices from each of the 36,465 protested clustered precincts ahead of the scheduled preliminary conference on June 21.
In the pleading filed by lawyer George Garcia, Marcos argued that PET has the power to order the decryption and printing before the scheduled preliminary conference to expedite the proceedings. The process, under the rules, is to be conducted and supervised by the election records and statistics departments of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The lawyer also cited Rule 29(a) of the 2010 PET Rules, which enumerated the items to be considered during the preliminary conference, including other matters that may aid in the prompt disposition of the election protest as something that would “assist in the preparation for the recount proceedings and the presentation of evidence for the protest.”
The contested areas subject of the proposed decryption and printing of ballot images included the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo, Bohol, Quezon, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, Palawan, Albay, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan and Isabela. It also included the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Zamboanga, and the 2nd District of Northern Samar.
Earlier, Marcos’ camp also asked the tribunal to designate hearing commissioners to expedite the proceedings. The SC is set to resume session tomorrow after a month-long decision-writing break.
The PET set the preliminary conference after requiring both Marcos and Robredo to pay cash deposits of P66.02 million and P15.44 million, respectively, for their protest and counter-protest.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29 last year, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the last automated polls. He sought the annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces – Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
He also contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.
Robredo filed her answer in August last year as well as a counter-protest, questioning the results in over 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.
She also sought the dismissal of Marcos’ protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction. However, the tribunal this year junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding sufficiency in form and substance in the protest.
Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes.