PET orders Comelec comment on Marcos bid to nullify poll results in 3 Mindanao provinces
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comment on former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s bid to nullify the election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
In a statement on Wednesday, PET gave the Comelec 20 days to submit its comment on issues related to Marcos’ third cause of action in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, which is the annulment of elections in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to alleged terrorism, intimidation, voter harassment, and pre-shading of ballots.
PET also asked Comelec as well as the Solicitor General whether the tribunal has the power to declare the annulment of elections without special elections; and the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections.
The PET likewise asked the Comelec and the OSG whether the tribunal’s declaration of failure of elections, and an order for special elections, will violate the Comelec’s mandate under the Constitution.
The poll body is also ordered to report to the justices if petitions for failure of elections were filed in the three Mindanao provinces; if the petitions were granted or denied; and whether special elections were held in areas with failure of elections, and the results of these special polls.
The Comelec and the OSG are directed to be furnished copies of PET’s Oct. 15, 2019 resolution and of the separate memoranda submitted by the Marcos and Robredo camps on the said resolution.
In that resolution, the PET said that after a manual recount of votes in three pilot provinces that Marcos alleged had fraudulent elections, Robredo’s lead over the former senator widened by over 15,000 votes.
In a statement on Tuesday, Marcos’s camp said it views ‘’with extreme reservation” the recent development of the electoral protest at it “added another layer that would cause tremendous delay” in referring the matter to OSG and Comelec.
It added that the protest is “under real threat of becoming moot and academic.”
“Instead of directly proceeding with the technical examination and forensic investigation he lamentably added another layer that would cause tremendous delay in referring the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General and the Comelec to file their respective Comment,” lawyer Vic Rodriguez said.
“Considering the very thin time left in the term of the contested position, our protest is under real threat of becoming moot and academic by events leading to 2022 such as the filing of candidacy, campaign and national election that would reduce the clamor and right of the people to know who really won the vice presidency illusory,” he added.
For its part, the camp of Robredo said the latest development “will help fast-track the resolution of the protest.”
“We will comply with the High Tribunal’s order and wait for the comments of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Solicitor General on the pending matters,” lawyer Beng Sardillo said in a separate statement.
“We fully believe that the High Tribunal will uphold Vice President Leni Robredo’s victory as seen in the 2016 results and in the recount of ballots. In 2016, our lead was 263,473 votes. And after the recount, our lead increased to 278,566 votes,” he added.
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