CHIEF Justice Lucas Bersamin yesterday said the decision of the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo may not come before his retirement on October 18.
Bersamin said this is because there are many issues in the case that have yet to be resolved.
“Every week, the case of Mr. Marcos is always in the agenda but there is no truth to reports that we voted 8-6 in favor of him. We have not voted at all because there are still many issues on the case that have to be dealt with,” Bersamin said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
Bersamin also said he has read the report of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa on the results of the revision of ballots on three pilot provinces — Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Oriental – which Marcos said can prove irregularities took place in the 2016 polls.
Bersamin declined to divulge the content of the report and said he has not made up his mind as to how he will vote.
“I have to be open-minded about this. There are many other issues, substantial issues and the revision is only one aspect of the case,” he said.
“So, I doubt it (voting and decision). I will be retiring on October 18 and we will go on a break after that,’ he added.
Bersamin also said whatever the decision on the revision, Robredo will remain as the vice president since the tribunal will rule only on the initial recount in the three pilot provinces.
On Sunday, Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal made the same point.
The PET deferred its decision on the issue last Tuesday and court insiders said the magistrates may deliberate and rule on the case today during their regular en banc session.
Robredo’s lawyers requested that the parties be furnished with a copy of the summary and committee report on the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from the three pilot provinces.
Macalintal said the request was filed “to put to rest the speculations” that Marcos has won the case, which he said Bersamin disputed last Friday.
Marcos earlier asked the tribunal to proceed with the investigation of ballots in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan but the magistrates denied his plea saying they could not do so without resolving first the pilot provinces first, as mandated under Rule 65 of the PET Rules.
Bersamin has assured the public the high court is not dragging its feet in on the electoral protest. He said it is just being careful because it involves also the integrity and credibility of the electoral and judicial processes.
After the Tribunal finishes its recount in the pilot provinces, it will decide on whether to proceed on the vote revision on 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in Marcos’ election protest.