Bongbong’s ‘abject failure’ to back up fraud claims doomed his case vs Robredo – SC
MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ “abject failure” to provide evidence to support his claims that he was cheated out of the vice-presidential race caused the dismissal of his election protest, the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal said in its February ruling, a copy of which was recently made public.
In the decision, the PET said the former senator failed to provide specific details to support his allegations of cheating.
PET, in the decision written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, said specificity is important in the failure of election cases, pre-proclamation controversies, and election contests.
“Basic wisdom underlies the need for specific allegations before entertaining pleas to set aside election outcomes,” the PET said. Without detailed allegations, the PET said the protest is insufficient in form and substance and warrants summary dismissal.
The PET said to entertain an election protest that does not provide pieces of evidence is basically a fishing expedition and deteriorating “the whole election process into an endless stream of crabs pulling each other, racing to disembark from the water.”
Marcos protest “lacked critical information” could have been dismissed outright
Marcos filed his election protest after being defeated by Robredo by a margin of only 263, 473 votes. He has three causes of action which the PET categorized into the following: first, annulment of Robredo’s proclamation; second, revision and recount of ballots in his three chosen pilot provinces–Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, and; third, the annulment of elections in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan.
In his protest, the former senator claimed irregularities occurred in 39,221 clustered precincts spread across 27 provinces and cities in the country. He sought to have 2,756 clustered precincts annulled and the remaining 36,465 clustered precincts’ votes judicially revised.
But PET had a rebuttal to Marcos’ claims that terrorism, violence, force, and intimidation were committed against voters in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan when he failed to specify what precincts were involved.
Additionally, the PET noted that while there were election protests in Lanao and Maguindanao, most were dismissed, while there was no protest or declaration of failure of elections in Basilan.
On claims of abnormally high unaccounted votes or undervotes in 23 provinces and cities, the PET said the Marcos camp “did not submit a single supporting affidavit.” The PET also noted that while there are claims of deceased persons included in the computerized voters’ lists and rampant flying voters, no information was provided on where these actually happened.
There are also missing dates, the number of precincts supposedly affected by the irregularities. The PET also took note of affidavits of the witnesses listed but the actual affidavits were not attached to the protest.
In some of the documents attached to the protest, no date was indicated such as the judicial affidavit of the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor in Marawi,
The PET said Marcos’ protest could have been dismissed under Rule 21 for being “insufficient in form and substance.” However, although the allegations in the protest are “bare, laden with generic and repetitious allegations and lacked critical information,” they still opt to “painstakingly scrutinize” supporting documents submitted by the former senator.
Under the PET rules, the protestant, in this case, Marcos has been asked to choose not more than three provinces “best exemplifying the frauds cited in his petition.” He has chosen Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
The revision or manual recount in these 3 provinces resulted in Robredo’s lead growing from 263,473 votes to 278,566 over Marcos.
“By this alone, protestant failed to show reasonable recovery of votes in his designated pilot provinces which supposedly best exemplified his allegation of fraud and irregularities,” the PET said.
“It can be fairly deduced that if even if we break down these ballots by clustered precincts or by the established precincts that comprise a clustered precinct, none will demonstrate the fraud and irregularities protestant claims to have happened in the pilot provinces,” it added.
Associate Justice Mario Lopez said even using his proposed formula to determine “reasonable recovery” in election protest, Marcos still cannot win over Robredo. He also lauded Justice Leonen for his “exhaustive discussion” and “well-written ponencia.”
Aside from Leonen, fully concurring with the dismissal of the poll protest are Associate Alexander Gesmundo (now chief justice), Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Ramon Paul Hernando, Rosmari Carandang, Amy Lazaro-Javier while those who concurred only in the result were now retired Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Associate Justices Henri Jean Paul Inting, Rodil Zalameda, Mario Lopez, Edgardo Delos Santos, Samuel Gaerlan, Ricardo Rosario, and Jhosep Lopez.
Sought for their next action, the Marcos camp said they are still studying the legal and factual basis mentioned in the decision.
“We are still studying and weighing both the legal and factual basis cited in the PET decision,” Atty. Vic Rodriguez said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.