Business Mirror – PET sets sights on VP election results in Mindanao provinces

By Business Mirror

THE Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has shifted its attention on the plea of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to annul the election results for vice president in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.

This after the PET ordered the camps of Marcos and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo to submit their respective memoranda within 20 days on the former’s third cause of action related to his election protest.

SC Spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the Court issued the order during its regular en banc session on Tuesday.

Hosaka announced that Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa both dissented from the majority decision.

In his election protest, Marcos cites three causes of action—first, that the Automated Elections System was compromised, hence, the integrity of the AES cannot be relied upon to declare a legitimate winner; the second requires the revision, or manual recount, of the actual ballots to determine the votes cast in all the 36,465 protested clustered precincts, while the third cause of action sought the annulment of election results for the VP position in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan, on the ground of terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters, as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts in the areas.

The PET has dismissed Marcos’s first cause of action for being “meaningless and pointless.”

On the other hand, Hosaka said the PET decided to release the committee report on the revision and recount of ballots on the three pilot provinces—Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur—involving 5,415 precincts.

Caguioa who was assigned to handle the election protest, submitted the report to PET last September 9.

The Court directed the parties to comment on the report.

Hosaka admitted that the election protest of Marcos remains pending as far as the second and third cause of actions are concerned because the PET has yet to issue resolutions on the matter.

“So we would just wait for the comments to be submitted by the parties, as well as the memoranda being required to be submitted on the third cause of action,” Hosaka said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who is representing Robredo on the case, admitted that they were not completely satisfied with the PET ruling as they were expecting its outright dismissal based on Caguioa’s report which showed no substantial recovery of votes for Marcos.

Macalintal also said the Court’s decision to take cognizance of Marcos’s third cause of action, despite his failure to prove election fraud in three pilot provinces, would only pave the way for parties to resort to fishing expedition for evidence.

“So, in our comment, the moment we get a copy of the report, we will insist on the petition of Marcos be dismissed on the basis of Caguioa report,” he said.

However, Macalintal said they welcome the PET”s order to provide the parties copies of the Caguioa report which would disprove Marcos’s claim that the result of last VP election was rigged to favor Robredo.

During the PET’s deliberation on the report submitted by Caguioa, supporters of Robredo and Marcos gathered outside the SC compound along Padre Faura Street in Manila in anticipation of a ruling that would favor either camp.

They peacefully left the place after the PET came out with the orders.

Marcos filed an election protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May also the same year.

The Commission on Elections declared Robredo as the winner in the vice presidential race in the 2016 election after she got 14,418,817 votes, which is 263,473 votes more than the 14,155,344 votes received by Marcos.

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