By Mara Cepeda | Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is unfazed by the decision of the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to junk his motion questioning the integrity of the 2016 automated polls.
Marcos’ spokesperson Victor Rodriguez said the ruling shows the PET wants to “expedite” the resolution of the electoral protest his client filed against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“We respect the tribunal’s decision and we will abide by it. We are glad that the tribunal share in our desire to expedite the disposition of this case the soonest possible time in interest of all the Filipino people, especially those whose votes were not counted,” Rodriguez said in a statement on Tuesday, September 5.
Marcos’ first cause of action in his electoral protest involved questioning the credibility of the automated election system. The PET turned down this petition in a decision dated August 29, which was publicized by the Robredo camp on Tuesday.
The case will now focus on the second and third causes of action in Marcos' electoral protest.
For the second cause of action, the PET ruled that ballot boxes will only be retrieved in the 3 provinces Marcos identified where initial recounting of votes will be held to determine if his protest has merit. These are Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
Marcos originally wanted ballot boxes to be retrieved in 22 provinces and 5 highly-urbanized cities for the vote recount.
The decryption and printing of ballot images will only be conducted in the 3 provinces as well.
The PET deferred action on Marcos’ third cause of action. He is requesting the conduct of a technical and forensic examination of all ballots from the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur. These are the provinces where he wants votes nullified due to alleged election fraud.
While Robredo’s lawyers counted the ruling as their victory in the case, Marcos’ camp believes the PET’s latest decision was in in their favor as well.
“We have the case exactly where we wanted it to be, the conduct of manual recount and judicial revision and annulment of election result in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan,” said Rodriguez.
‘Sins of Smartmatic’
According to Rodriguez, the PET’s latest decision will not stop the Marcos camp from revealing the “many sins of Smartmatic to the Filipino people.” Smartmatic was the technology provider for the poll transmission in 2016.
“This will not stop us from exposing the many sins, the manipulations, fraud and irregularities committed by Smartmatic in our election system in other fora. Our fight against the conspirators does not stop with this decision,” Rodriguez said.
On Tuesday, Robredo’s lawyers filed an urgent manifestation and motion calling on the PET to order Marcos to pay P2 billion for the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) continued protection of all poll paraphernalia relevant to his election protest.
Last year, the PET had directed the Comelec to preserve and safeguard the integrity of all ballot boxes, their contents, and all other election-related paraphernalia – including the automated election equipment and records – in all 92,509 clustered precincts used in the May polls.