MANILA (UPDATE) - The camp of losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos has asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to act on his motion seeking the technical examination of clustered precincts from 3 provinces outside the designated pilot provinces in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Accompanied by over 100 red-shirt supporters, Marcos’ lawyer George Garcia filed his motion before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, coinciding with the 1,000th day of Marcos’ electoral protest. Magistrates of the top court sit as members of the PET.
In his motion, Marcos asked the PET to subpoena the relevant documents from the Commission on Elections Election Records and Statistics Department (Comelec-ERSD), investigate the chairpersons and members of the board of election inspectors in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao, and order the Comelec Voters’ Identification Division (Comelec-VID) to conduct a technical examination in these areas.
A technical examination involves the comparison of signatures and thumbprints of voters in the Voter’s Registration Record (VRR) as against the Election Day Computerized Voters List (EDCVL).
Marcos claimed that an earlier technical examination by the Comelec-VID revealed there are 40,528 signatures and 3,295 thumbprints in 508 established precincts in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao that are “not identical with the original and genuine signatures and/or thumbprints of the real and legitimate voters as reflected on the relevant VRRs.”
He cited the Comelec-ERSD’s findings in the electoral protest filed by losing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gubernatorial candidate Abdusakur Tan against ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman that the “2016 National, Local and ARMM Elections has (sic) been marked with different forms of election fraud such as massive substituted voting.”
Robredo had opposed the motion, claiming that it violates the 2000 PET Rules, which confines the initial determination of grounds for protests to the revision and reception of evidence in the 3 provinces best exemplifying frauds or irregularities.
Marcos had chosen Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros as the pilot provinces.
Under the PET rules, a protest may be dismissed if after examination, the protestant will most likely fail to make a case in these pilot provinces, without examining the other provinces.
Robredo had claimed Marcos is circumventing the rules and is trying to save a “dying” electoral protest since the results of the revision and recount showed “no substantial recovery” of votes for the Marcos camp.
Calling this argument “misleading,” Marcos in his motion said the technical examination of votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Mindanao fall under a separate, distinct and independent cause of action – his third – involving the annulment of election results in these areas.
According to Marcos, Robredo obtained 477,985 votes in these 3 provinces where there was allegedly “widespread presence of terrorism, violence, threats, coercion, force, intimidation, and the proliferation and batch-feeding of pre-shaded ballots in each of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts.”
In a statement, Robredo's camp called the move as a "clever attempt to pressure the PET" to act on Marcos' motion that is "clearly unmeritorious and without any legal or lawful basis."
"The alleged basis of such frivolous motion, technical examinations of some election documents, has not yet even acted upon by the Comelec and involves only the election protest of gubernatorial candidates in the ARMM polls where Marcos and Robredo are not parties, hence not binding upon them nor could be the basis of PET to act on BBM (Marcos) motion," Robredo's lead counsel Romulo Macalintal said.
"The motion, which is a clear attempt to revive his dying protest, should, therefore, be denied for its utter lack of merit or for being baseless. This is a desperate move considering that VP Leni's lead has increased after the protest."
Robredo beat Marcos in May 2016 by a little over 260,000 votes, the closest vice presidential race in recent memory.