PET defers anew deliberations on Leni-Marcos case

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    THE Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, yesterday deferred anew deliberations on the election protest filed by losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

    The magistrates decided to reset to October 15 the deliberations on results of the revision, recount, and re-appreciation of ballots from three pilot provinces — Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo.

    Marcos earlier said he could prove that irregularities marred the conduct of the 2016 polls in those provinces, which he said resulted in his narrow loss to Robredo.

    The results of the revision process are contained in a report submitted to the tribunal on September 9 by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the justice in charge of the case.

    Deliberations were originally scheduled on October 1 but moved to October 8 and now moved to another week.

    The deferment was confirmed by Brian Keith Hosaka, chief of the Supreme Court’s public information office.

    “For those inquiring, the PET did not take any action on the vice presidential election protest case during the tribunal’s session today. The said case remains pending and is still being deliberated by the members of the tribunal,” Hosaka said.

    The PET will decide, based on Caguioa’s report, whether to proceed with the vote revision on 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in election protest.

    On Monday, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said the tribunal’s decision on the election protest may not be finalized before his retirement on October 18.

    Bersamin said this is because of numerous issues that have yet to be resolved. The Caguioa reports is just one of the issues, he said.

    Bersamin also said whatever the PET’s decision will be, Robredo will remain the vice president because the tribunal will rule only on the initial recount in the three pilot provinces.

    The group Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko) asked PET to issue a decision soon, saying the three-year wait is enough time for the tribunal to resolve the poll protest case.

    “We believe that the Filipino people deserve an immediate resolution of this protest based on an honest and accurate count,” said Laiko president Ma. Julieta Wasan.

    “Having concluded the recount of the ballots, the issue to be resolved by the tribunal is whether the electoral protest should continue,” she also said. – With Gerard Naval