By Mario J. Mallari | Daily Tribune
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expressed confidence that his camp can prove massive cheating in the 2016 vice-presidential race, particularly in three provinces under the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where he claimed there were no proper elections conducted.
Marcos, during a recent “Straight Talk with Daily Tribune” forum said that his camp has evidence to back up claims on fraudulent polls in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
The former senator is asking the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to nullify results in the three provinces as part of his protest.
“We feel, we’re confident we can show that the proper election was not held in those areas,” Marcos said his is something that we have been pushing for since the very beginning but it has been pushed back and deferred and delayed but finally we came to that,” he added.
Marcos believed that nullifying the votes in the three provinces would effectively wipe out Vice President Leni Robredo’s lead of 263,473 votes against him during the May 2016 elections.
He wanted experts to compare and examine the data of 82,316 registered voters in 508 precincts from the three provinces, alleging that over 40,000 signatures and thumb marks were not identical.
Marcos cited a report from Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who said that a technical review of the Commission on Elections’ Records and Statistics Department showed that 40,528 signatures and 3,295 thumbprints in the three provinces do not match the original specimen from voters’ registration records during the 2016 polls.
Asked how optimistic is he regarding his protest more than three years after filing it, Marcos replied “I think, by rights, by merit and I’m very very confident because I’ve seen the evidence.”
The former senator lamented how SC Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa handled his original electoral protest but welcomed the SC en banc’s consideration to the two causes of action in his poll case.
Caguioa, along with retired SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, wanted to dismiss Marcos’ petition on its entirety after the recount in three pilot provinces but they were outvoted by the SC en banc last October.
The SC en banc subsequently asked Marcos and Robredo to comment on the second and third causes of action under the electoral protest which is the recount and the nullification of results in Maguindanao, Basilan and Lanao del Sur.
“The then justice in charge is Justice Caguioa recommended to the PET and the Bar that my petition should be dismissed, the entire petition should be dismissed on the basis of his subjective assessment of the recount,” Marcos told the Daily Tribune.
As a consequence of his dissenting stance from the majority, Caguioa was removed from the case and a re-raffle reportedly had SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen now in charge.
The former senator has also asked the PET to revisit the results of a poll recount conducted in precincts in Iloilo, Camarines Sur — Robredo’s bailiwick — and Negros Oriental, where the incumbent vice president’s lead rose by 15,000 votes after the ballot review.
Next moves plotted
The Marcos camp wanted the tribunal to reconsider its conclusions, saying there were 174 signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors in Iloilo, which had “glaringly different” signatures compared to other election documents.
Marcos’ lawyers added that votes objected to by their camp have been “erroneously overruled” in the recount, saying that there were hundreds of ballots which were not shaded or had partial markings in favor of Robredo but were counted anyway.
The petition stated that “as for the claims of Robredo which were admitted even though the ovals for claimant were ambiguously shaded, that finding and conclusion of the Preliminary Appreciation Committee is again flawed.”
Marcos’ petition added that some votes credited to Robredo did not specify the reasons or the basis for doing so.
“We have submitted our comments and we are waiting for the PET to instruct us what to do next,” Marcos said.