Marcos changing strategy midway poll protest, says ex-Comelec exec
MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. seems to be changing his game plan by asking the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to nullify election results in three provinces in the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a former commissioner of the Commission on Elections said Wednesday.
Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal said Marcos should have stuck solely with his initial demand for the recount of votes in Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo — pilot provinces where he believed had the most number of cheatings.
But while the initial recount for these provinces was ongoing, Marcos wants the PET to simultaneously annul the election results in three ARMM provinces, namely Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao Del Sur over issues of terrorism, alleged intimidation and harassment of voters, and pre-shading of ballots.
Citing internal records, the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo said the initial recount in the pilot provinces showed that her lead against Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race even grew by 15,000.
Asked in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel if he thinks Marcos was changing his strategy midway, Lazzarabal said: “I think so because they should have just said that they ask for a nullification of the elections in those pilot precincts, the provinces.”
Lazzarabal also said the PET should first resolve issues on the pilot provinces before it can deal with the proposed nullification of election results in three ARMM provinces mentioned by Marcos.
“Jurisprudence will tell us that you can’t change strategies midcourse. If you chose the pilot precincts, you stick with it. If your theory says that these pilot precincts will show that we will be able to recover, then you stick with that,” he said.
“You can’t ask for an annulment of votes after you’ve chosen the pilot precincts because that would be putting the cart before the horse. That would be changing your strategy midway,” he added.
Should the PET decide on granting Marcos’ petition for the annulment of poll results in the pilot provinces, which he said has never been done before, the PET should really “tread cautiously,” said Larrazabal.
He explained that once the PET chooses that path, it will open doors to “so many” potential problems in electoral exercises in the country.
He also stressed that Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules should apply to the electoral protest of Marcos and that there is no reason for it to be “thrown away” after it has been in effect for the last nine years.
Robredo’s camp earlier argued that Rule 65 would lead to the dismissal of the electoral protest of Marcos if official figures will show that he had failed to have substantial recovery after the initial recount in the three pilot provinces.
Asked to comment on the recent decision of the SC on the electoral protest, Larrazabal said it is being transparent to the public but the move delayed the proceedings.
“That 20 days for both counsel to comment can probably be settled by the end of the year, earliest,” he said. /muf
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