The Manila Times – ‘PET can annul votes in Mindanao’

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) opined that the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has the power and jurisdiction to annul the result of the election in Mindanao provinces if it was marred by fraud as claimed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Marcos filed an election protest against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, alleging poll fraud.

In its 30-Page Comment filed before the high tribunal, the poll body said the PET has the power to order the annulment of votes under the 1987 Constitution and the 2010 Rules of the PET without conducting special elections.

Marcos questioned the integrity of the elections in 2,756 protested clustered precincts in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan. He asked the PET to annul the votes because of the alleged “massive” cheating.

The Comelec cited Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that the Supreme Court en banc “shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice President and may promulgate rules for the purpose.”

It added that under the 2010 Rules of the PET, the tribunal has express and implied powers and “other such powers as may be inherent, necessary or incidental thereto for the accomplishment of its purposes and functions.”

The commission added that votes can be annulled if evidence showed that more than 50 percent of the votes were cast illegally or if it is impossible to determine the lawful and unlawful ballots and if the “protestee is the one accountable for illegal acts.”

The Comelec clarified that voiding election results is entirely different from declaring a failure of elections, which is one of the functions of the commission.

It pointed out that the annulment of elections shall be made “only to determine who among the candidates garnered a majority of the legal votes cast.”

Marcos lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes. He alleged “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” in the vice-presidential race such as preshading of ballots, preloaded SD or secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning VCMs or vote-counting machines, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes.

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