Robredo to PET: Uphold rules on Marcos poll protest

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    VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to uphold its own rules in deciding on the electoral protest filed by losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

    The manifestation was filed by Robredo’s lead lawyers, Romulo Macalintal and Emil Maranon III, on the eve of the expected deliberation of the tribunal on the case.

    In the manifestation, Robredo asked the SC to follow Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules that entails judicial recount, revision and appreciation of the votes cast in three provinces identified by Marcos where alleged cheating occurred.

    Macalintal said Rule 65 would result to the dismissal of Marcos’ electoral case if, after the initial recount in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, there would be now substantial recovery in Marcos’ favor.

    Macalintal reminded the Tribunal that it cannot move forward with the protest should Marcos fail to substantially recover the lead votes of Robredo from the three provinces.

    “Without any evidence, no matter how loud the cry of cheating may be, this election protest must be dismissed,” the manifestation said.

    Marcos, a former senator, claimed that he can prove that irregularities marred the conduct of the 2016 elections. Last year, he sought the annulment of election results for the vice presidential position in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan on the ground of terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters as well as alleged pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts in the areas.

    The PET had twice deferred its deliberation on the case – last October 1 and 8 – despite the fact that Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa already submitted last month the result of the revision and recount of ballots in the three pilot provinces. Caguiao is the justice assigned to handle the election protest.

    Caguiao’s report covers the result of the revision and recount of ballots in 5,415 precincts in Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur.

    The outcome of the revision and recount of ballots in the three pilot provinces will determine whether the PET will proceed in the vote revision on 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in Marcos’ election protest.

    Marcos’ lawyer, Vic Rodriguez, said they treat Robredo’s manifestation as an affirmation of what Marcos had long demanded – to observe and respect the Rule of the PET.