On Marcos poll protest: Stand by your rules, Robredo urges PET
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo through her counsels on Monday asked the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to stand by its own rules in deciding on the electoral protest filed by losing vice presidential candidate, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In the manifestation, Robredo — through lead lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Emil Maranon III — said the PET should abide by Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, which entails judicial recount, revision and appreciation of the votes cast in protestant’s Marcos pilot provinces.
Macalintal said Rule 65 would result in the dismissal of Marcos’s electoral case, if, after the initial determination in the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, the latter would be unable to show substantial recovery in his favor.
The manifestation reminded the tribunal that it could move forward with the protest should Marcos fail to substantially recover the lead votes of Robredo in the three pilot provinces.
“Without any evidence, no matter how loud the cry of cheating may be, this election protest must be dismissed,” the manifestation said.
Several speculations are coming about the possible outcome of the case including disregarding the rule on pilot provinces but Macalintal said the Marcos poll protest is not unique for the Tribunal to disregard Rule 65, adding that the initial determination rule also applied in cases before the electoral tribunals of both Senate and House of Representatives.
At the same time, he said the third cause of action cited by Marcos asking for technical examination of the ballots in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao was raised belatedly even as he added that there are no rules yet on how to conduct a technical examination.
“It should not be allowed because it would be like the tribunal allowing him to have six pilot provinces instead of three which is required by the Rules,” he explained.
The PET has twice deferred its deliberation on the case — last Oct. 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 three pilot provinces covered by the election protest.
The outcome of the revision and recount of ballots in the said three pilot provinces would determine whether PET would proceed in the vote revision on 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in the Marcos election protest.
Sought for comment, Marcos’s lawyer, Vic Rodriguez, said they would treat Robredo’s manifestation as an affirmation of what his client Marcos had long demanded from her and the chairman of the election protest-Caguioa — to observe the respect for the Rule of the PET.
“Rule 3 of the PET calls for a liberal interpretation in order to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before it,” Rodriguez said, adding that their second cause of action-the annulment of the election results- have yet to commence notwithstanding that it is a separate and distinct action independent from the first.
He said Caguioa should also have acted “with a cold neutrality of an impartial judge as a dispenser of justice.”
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