Bongbong Marcos scores in new PET order vs Comelec
The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has ruled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should pay for the cost of the overseas storage of election materials related to the protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The PET made the ruling in a resolution made public Monday.
The poll body earlier told the PET that Marcos should shoulder the storage fees for ballot boxes and other election materials kept abroad because those could not be shipped back to the country following the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) issued by the PET.
For New York and Hong Kong alone, the incurred storage fee has amounted to over P4.5-million, Comelec said.
Comelec claimed that since the PPO instructed them to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the ballots and other election materials, they could not bring them back to the Comelec office in Manila within the required period and so the same had to be stocked in the foreign posts which resulted in additional costs.
But the PET rejected Comelec’s argument saying the PPO did not prohibit them from transferring the ballots and other election-related materials to Manila.
“There is nothing in the PPO that prohibited the physical transfer of the election materials and paraphernalia; the Comelec was merely required to preserve and safeguard their integrity. Thus, the Comelec’s proffered reason that its faithful compliance to the PPO has no basis,” the PET resolution stated.
It further ruled, “(a)s mentioned, the PPO is clear in that the Comelec and its agents were ordered to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the election materials and paraphernalia which could be done even if they needed to be transmitted to Comelec Central Office.”
In fact, on several occasions, according to the Tribunal, the Comelec despite the PPO, had moved and was granted permission by the Tribunal to move election materials. This is the reason why, stated the Tribunal, it could not understand why the Comelec did not make a similar move on the ballot materials in the custody of foreign posts.
“As to why it would treat differently materials and paraphernalia in the custody of the Posts escapes this Tribunal as the PPO did not make such distinction. Indeed, the Comelec could have simply secured permission from the Tribunal for their transfer to the Comelec Central Office. The Comelec made no such request,” it said. /cbb
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