THE SUPREME Court has ordered Election officials to answer a plea by losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to void election results in three Mindanao provinces as part of his electoral protest.
The high court gave the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 20 days to comment on the pleading, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mr. Marcos earlier asked the court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to nullify the ballots in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao, citing massive fraud.
The tribunal also ordered the Comelec and Office of the Solicitor General to answer the question of whether the court is empowered to annual election results without ordering special polls.
They should also answer the question of whether an order for special elections would infringe on the election body’s mandate.
Mr. Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, filed the election protest in June 2016 after losing by a hair to Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo.
The court also ordered that copies of its October 2019 order be given to the Comelec and Solicitor General. The order showed that Ms. Robredo’s lead over Mr. Marcos in the pilot provinces of Camariñes Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental rose by about 15,000 votes after a recount.
The tribunal asked the parties last year to comment on the order before it could rule on Mr. Marcos’s other plea for a recount in 27 other provinces.
Victor D. Rodriguez, a spokesman for Mr. Marcos, said they welcome the “latest assertion” of the tribunal on the validity of their call to void election results in the three Mindanao provinces.
“Notwithstanding such affirmation, we view with extreme reservation the route chosen by the justice in charge,” he said in a statement.
“Instead of directly proceeding with the technical examination and forensic investigation he lamentably added another layer that would cause tremendous delay in referring the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General and the Comelec to file their respective comment,” he added.
Mr. Rodriguez said the Marcos protest was “under real threat of becoming moot and academic by events leading to 2022” including preparations for the national elections.
Ms. Robredo’s camp said the court order would hasten the case. “Marcos already lost the game,” her lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo said in a statement. “Let’s already finish this one.”
“We fully believe that the high tribunal will uphold Vice President Leni Robredo’s victory,” she added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza