The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has assured the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), can declare a an annulment of elections.
“It is crystal clear that PET is empowered by the Constitution to declare annulment of elections without special elections,” read the comment filed by the COMELEC.
“It cannot, however, declare failure of elections and conduct special elections, the latter, being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC,” the poll body added.
The PET directed the COMELEC to file the comment concerning questions regarding the third cause of action in the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who contested his loss to Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2016 polls.
The poll body reminded that PET “three elements must concur to justify the extreme act of annulling the results of the elections, namely: (1) evidence that more than fifty percent of the votes were cast illegally; (2) impossibility of differentiating the lawful and unlawful ballots; and, (3), clear, convincing, and strong evidence that the protestee is the one accountable for the illegal acts.”
Among three causes of action, Marcos sought in his third cases of action the annulment of elections in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.
The COMELEC also informed the PET there were eight election protests filed in the three provinces following the 2016 polls.
“All the aforementioned cases were dismissed by the COMELEC En Banc; and except for SPA 16-16114 (FE), all cases were issued their respective Certificates of Finality. Accordingly, no special elections were held or conducted in the Provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao in connection with the 2016 NLE (national and local elections),” the poll body said.