VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday asked the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to affirm the result of the recount and re-appreciation of ballots in the provinces of Cam Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo in the electoral protest of defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Marcos had cited the three “pilot” provinces in his poll protest, claiming irregularities in the conduct of the 2016 national elections marred the results of the contest for the vice presidency.
Three years after the PET convened for the protest, it concluded that Marcos’ votes were not slashed. Instead, the tribunal said that after the recount and re-appreciation of the ballots in the said provinces, Robredo’s lead over Marcos had widened by more than 15,000 votes from 263,473 to 278,566 votes.
Robredo yesterday said the PET should first affirm its findings on the three pilot provinces before it proceeds with the recount and re-appreciation of three Mindanao provinces, which Marcos had belatedly included in his list of contested areas.
The Vice President made her plea in response to the comments submitted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Marcos’ third cause of action seeking the annulment of election in Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Basilan, which the former senator said was attended by terrorism, harassment and intimidation of voters as well as the pre-shading of ballots.
Robredo said the PET should first affirm its findings in the three pilot provinces before proceeding to the issue on the three Mindanao provinces.
“Before any discussion and arguments can be made on the annulment of elections, the Honorable Tribunal must first resolve the issue on whether protestant Marcos was able to make his case based on the result of the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots in his pilot provinces,” Robredo said.
She said that Marcos has failed to prove his case in the three pilot provinces and allowing the review of the election results in Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Basilan will violate Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules.
The said provision states that an election protest may be junked without consideration to other provinces if a protestee failed to prove his case from the three pilot provinces chosen because of alleged irregularities.
Robredo explained that allowing the third cause of action would be a deviation from established rules and jurisprudence.
“Effectively, this will change the rules in the middle of the game,” Robredo said, adding that to do so would violate her right to due process and equal protection of the law.
Marcos narrowly lost to Robredo in the 2016 election, garnering 14,115,344 votes as against Robredo’s 14,418,817 votes.