Bongbong asks PET to re-examine initial results of VP poll recount

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2020 12:22 PM | Updated as of Jan 07 2020 03:36 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to re-examine the preliminary results of his recount against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Marcos, in a memorandum filed Dec. 19, 2019, also asked the high court to proceed to his third cause of action seeking to annul the results of the elections in 3 Mindanao provinces.

The PET had ruled in October last year that based on the initial recount of 3 pilot provinces, Robredo's lead over Bongbong Marcos even grew by over 15,000 votes.

Instead of dismissing Marcos’ election protest outright, the PET gave both parties the chance to comment on the results.

In his 595-page memorandum dated December 19 last year, Marcos insisted the preliminary appreciation committees “erroneously overruled” his objections to ballots counted in favor of Robredo "even though he was not given any opportunity to present his evidence in support of his pilot protest.”

Aside from this, he also questioned ballots where the signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) were supposedly “glaringly different” from BEI signatures in other election documents and some ballots that were not shaded which were allegedly counted as part of Robredo’s votes.

Marcos also accused the preliminary appreciation committee of adding rejected ballots to Robredo’s votes “without first verifying the basis for the rejection of the ballot/s by the Vote Counting Machine (VCM) and whether replacement ballots were issued to the concerned voter during the elections.”

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Marcos had chosen the provinces of Negros Oriental, Camarines Sur and Iloilo as his 3 pilot provinces where an initial recount of the ballots was held.

Under Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, the protest may be dismissed “without further consideration of the other provinces” if the protestant will most probably fail to make out his case after the initial recount involving 3 provinces.

But Marcos is contesting the application of this rule in his case, saying that his third cause of action – the annulment of election results in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan – is “separate, distinct and independent” from his second cause of action – the judicial revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots – which the PET concluded last year.

He pointed out that the second cause of action is based on the misappreciation in the counting of ballots which require revision, appreciation while the third cause of action is based on terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters as well as pre-shading of ballots resulting to the illegality of ballots and the impossibility to distinguish with reasonable certainty between the lawful and unlawful ballots which warrants annulment of the results.

“A dismissal of the entire protest under this rule does not apply where a separate and distinct cause of action for annulment of election results in certain identified precincts on the ground of terrorism is pleaded both in the body and relief of the protest – as in this case. The protest can and must proceed independently of the result from the recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots,” he said.

Marcos cited a 2014 election protest before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) filed by Raul Daza against Harlin Abayon which involved 2 causes of actions and the HRET’s equivalent of the PET’s Rule 65.

He pointed out that Daza was even allowed to withdraw his first cause of action for the manual recount of ballots while his other cause of action for the annulment of the results of the elections was allowed to continue. 

As early as July 2017, Marcos had already moved for the technical examination of the ballots in the 3 Mindanao provinces in pursuit of his third cause of action but the PET deferred the resolution of his motion until after the initial determination of the grounds for the protest under Rule 65.

Marcos also argued that even granting Robredo won in the recount of ballots, her lead is “not mathematically insurmountable” so as to render his third cause of action moot. 

Assuming Robredo led by 263,473 votes, he said he could easily surpass this overall margin as Robredo stands to lose 497,985 votes if the election results in the 3 Mindanao provinces were annulled.

He added he has a right to prove and establish his third cause of action and the denial will impair his right to due process.

Robredo, in a statement, said she has also submitted a memorandum urging the PET to dismiss Marcos' protest pursuant to Rule 65 after Marcos "failed to gain any substantial recovery from the pilot provinces that he identified."

“Indeed, with such uncontested findings, this Honorable Tribunal will be treating this protest as a special case if it is not dismissed under Rule 65,” she said.