Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to resolve the election protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bonbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a comment that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed, Calida asked the PET to “consider the instant protest submitted for immediate resolution after the parties shall have filed their respective replies to the respective comments of the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) and OSG (Office of the Solicitor General).”
Calida filed the comment in compliance to the PET’s order for comments on whether the PET can declare an annulment of elections without special elections; declare a failure of elections and then order the conduct of special elections; and whether such actions would infringe on the mandate and powers of the COMELEC.
“All told, it is respectfully submitted that the Honorable Tribunal has the power to declare the annulment of elections or a failure of elections without infringing upon the COMELEC’s authority, but it has no concomitant power to order the conduct of special elections,” read Calida’s comment.
Among the three causes of action, Marcos sought in his second cause of action the annulment of the election results in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan on the grounds of terrorism, intimidation, and harassment of voters during the 2016 polls.
“In the case at bar, it is indubitable that even if the votes cast in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan are declared null and void, there is no failure to elect to speak of. On the contrary, the ultimate winner, or the one with the majority (or plurality) of the valid votes case, is determinable,” the solicitor general said.
The PET has already released to the parties the results of the revision of ballots in it conducted on three pilot provinces that Marcos himself selected, namely, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
In his comment, Calida cited that the PET is “empowered to declare the annulment of elections or a failure of elections pursuant to Section 4(7), Article VII of the 1987 Constitution…”
“The Constitution is however, silent, as to whether the PET has the power to order the conduct of special elections by reason of its findings, or as incident to or an adjunct of its functions as the PET,” he said.
“It would thus be fair to conclude that the jurisdiction of the PET as defined by Section 4(7), Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, would not include the power to call for special elections,” Calida pointed out.