The Manila Times - Comelec comment sought on poll protest

1 October 2020

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times

The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has moved to speed up the pace of the protest filed by Ferdinand Marcos against Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo disputing the results of the 2016 vice presidential elections.

In a press briefing, the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office said the PET ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit their comments on the protest, which has been pending before the tribunal for more than four years.

The Manila Times ran a story that the protest has been languishing in the tribunal.
Marcos’ spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, welcomed the high court’s order.

“We welcome this latest assertion by the tribunal on the validity of our second cause of action calling for the annulment of the election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao as separate and distinct from the manual recount and judicial revision,” he said in a statement.

He, however, lamented that the order would further delay the case.

“We view with extreme reservation the route chosen by the justice in charge. 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 OSG and Comelec to file their respective comment,” Roriguez said.

“Considering the very thin time left in the term of the contested position, our protest is under real threat of becoming moot and academic by events leading to 2022 such as the filing of candidacy, campaign and national election that would reduce the clamor and right of the people to know who really won the vice presidency illusory,” he added.

Marcos filed the protest against Robredo, calling on the tribunal to annul election returns from Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan.

Marcos lost the vice presidential election to Robredo by 263,473 votes, a margin that he said was built through “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as preshading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards and misread ballots.

In its order, the tribunal asked the Comelec and the OSG to ascertain if it can declare a failure of election without infringing on the Comelec’s constitutional mandate to hold elections.

The tribunal also ordered Marcos and Robredo to reply to the comment of the two agencies.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen was assigned to handle the protest case in October 2019. The PET adopted his recommendation that a comment from the parties involved is enough to get the case moving again.