MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) found the election protest of Senator Manuel Roxas II sufficient in form and substance, court administrator and Supreme Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said on Monday.
Chief Justice Renato Corona has ordered the secretary of the tribunal to issue summons to Vice President Jejomar Binay and require him to comment on the protest within 10 days upon receiving the protest, Marquez said.
"The respondent is required to submit his comments within 10 days upon receipt of the summons. The PET will check if there will be counter protest. If not, a preliminary conference will be called. Here, issues will be agreed upon, timelines to be set and issues will be limited," he said.
The court official said a fast resolution of the election protest could happen this time around because of the automated nature of the recount.
?But then again we will have to wait first for the comment or if there?s a counter claim filed by the respondents?. And then we?ll see,? Marquez added.
Roxas, through his lawyers Bienvenido Somera Jr. and Joe Nathan Tenefrancia, filed on Friday morning a 102-page petition seeking to annul the proclamation of rival Jejomar Binay as the duly elected vice president, claiming there were about three million votes that were not counted during the canvassing, resulting to his defeat in the May 10 elections.
In the protest, Roxas urged the PET to conduct a manual revision of votes and ordered a complete and accurate count of votes that were not canvassed and were considered stray or null by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
He also asked the Supreme Court to create and constitute a technical panel of independent experts that would conduct a comprehensive, system-wide forensic analysis and comparison of the country's first automated election system (AES) to "ensure that the true will of the electorate is upheld."
According to the petition, the certificates of canvass (COCs) that formed the basis of Binay's proclamation were not duly and properly authenticated, as these failed to meet all legal requirements for the determination of authenticity and due execution of the COCs for vice president, in violation of the Constitution.
Roxas's lawyers also said that the votes intended for him were unaccounted for, as there were several precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines comprising of several clustered precincts transmitting not the actual election results but the final testing and sealing (FTS) results, a fact that is officially admitted and documented by the Comelec.
Roxas said the anomalously high incidence of null or misread votes is not only relevant but also crucial for the vice presidential race, considering the narrow margin of just 727,084 votes between him and Binay.
On June 9, Binay was proclaimed by Congress, sitting as National Board of Canvassers, as the winner of the vice presidential contest, with 14,645,574 votes obtained, as against Roxas's 13,918,490.
In filing his protest, Roxas's camp paid a filing fee of P100,000 and an initial deposit of P200,000, the principal amount of which will still have to be determined by the PET.