WHAT WENT BEFORE
On July 23, 2004, three weeks after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was proclaimed the winner of the 2004 presidential election, her closest rival, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., filed an election protest in the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
Poe asked the PET to annul Congress’ proclamation of Arroyo as the winner of the election and accused her administration of committing “massive and widespread electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities.”
The contested election results showed Arroyo with 12,905,808 votes and Poe with 11,782,232 votes.
Poe said results from election returns (ERs) were manipulated when transposed to the certificates of canvass (COCs).
He also asked the PET to correct the ER results in 10,554 precincts in seven provinces, one city and seven municipalities, and the ballot results in 118,339 precincts in 42 cities and provinces.
Arroyo filed a counterprotest on Aug. 5, 2004, claiming she was cheated in some 20,000 precincts in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Quezon, South Cotabato, Northern Samar and Ilocos Norte.
She also asked the PET to dismiss Poe’s protest, saying it was insufficient in form and substance.
On Dec. 14, 2004, Poe died after suffering a massive stroke.
On Jan. 10, 2005, his widow, actress Susan Roces, asked the high court to allow her to substitute for Poe. She said that she possessed the “legal capacity and standing” to do so and that Poe’s death did not “extinguish” the election protest against Arroyo.
In response, Arroyo asked the high court to throw out Poe’s election protest, saying it had died with him. She also asked the PET to reject Roces’ petition for lack of legal basis.
“The right to contest the office of the presidency was personal to [Poe] and is non-transferable, non-transmissible and non-delegable,” Arroyo said through her lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Alberto Agra.
On March 29, 2005, the high court junked Roces’ petition, saying she was not “the party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, and the party who is entitled to avail of the suit.”
The tribunal cited Rule 14 of the PET Rules, which provides that “[o]nly the registered candidate of the President or Vice President … who received the second and third highest number of votes may contest the election of the President or Vice President … by filing a verified petition with the clerk of the [PET] within 30 days after the proclamation of the winner.”
On April 11, 2005, Roces, through a manifestation filed by her lawyer Sixto Brillantes Jr., said she would not seek the high court’s reconsideration of its ruling.
But she said the tribunal was using “technicality to conceal the truth.”
She said it “opted to take the simple and easy way out by deciding to go technical … as if to wash its hands and just leave the true will of the Filipino people [expressed in the May 2004 election] … in limbo.” Inquirer Research