The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has denied the plea of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for official copies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns (ERs), and audit logs for his contested pilot provinces in connection with his poll protest against Vice-President Leni Robredo.
Instead, the PET allowed Marcos access to photocopies of these documents.
Marcos’ pilot provinces are Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
The PET, in a resolution dated Jan. 10, said “the custody of the official, printed and authenticated copies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns, and audit logs from the protested clustered precincts of the said pilot provinces should remain with the Tribunal for the conduct of the revision proceedings pursuant to the 2010 PET Rules.”
The tribunal also denied Marcos’ motion for reconsideration of its November 7, 2017 ruling allowing Robredo to secure soft copies of the ballot images and other reports contained in the decrypted secured digital cards without paying for the copies.
It was Marcos who paid for the decryption.
Marcos’ camp criticized the latest ruling, again accusing Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the one in charge of his protest and Robredo’s counter-protest, of bias.
“Senator Marcos had already made public last week the obvious bias of Justice Caguioa in his case and he said he would not be surprised if this kind of resolution would come out and he was correct. This is another clear confirmation that he is indeed biased against Senator Marcos and in favor of Mrs. Robredo," Marcos’ spokesman Atty. Victor Rodriguez said.
“It was Senator Marcos who moved for the decryption and Mrs. Robredo even opposed it. When Tribunal granted it, it required Senator Marcos to pay for the cost of decryption which has now amounted to P7 million and still counting. But Justice Caguioa does not want to give us the documents we paid for, saying the same should stay with the Tribunal and if we want copies, we should pay again,” he added.
As justice in charge of the case, Caguioa makes recommendations on what actions the tribunal has to take on the protest and counter-protest.
Marcos has lamented the delays in the progress of his protest, and accused Caguioa of bias in recommending, among others, to the PET that he be required to pay his P36 million protest fee during the Holy Week break last year, and produce 8,000 witnesses within a non-extendible period of only five days.
“This kind of injustice has no place in a court of law, especially in the Supreme Court,” Rodriguez said.
Marcos lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 elections.