Bongbong asks PET to reconsider ruling junking election protest vs VP Robredo

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2021 02:23 PM

MANILA - Defeated 2016 vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is not throwing in the towel just yet. 

He filed on Monday a motion asking the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to reconsider its earlier ruling dismissing his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed the PET received Marcos’ motion on Monday afternoon, May 10.

In a 96-page motion, Marcos said the PET should not have relied on technicalities, insisting that his third cause of action on annulment of elections in 3 Mindanao provinces is independent and should not have been dismissed.

“Election contests involve public interest. Technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle in determining the true will of the electorate in their choice of elective officials.”

The PET, in February, junked Marcos’ election protest after close to 5 years, citing his “abject failure” to specify and prove allegations of fraud.

The tribunal also cited his failure to establish substantial recovery of votes in his 3 pilot provinces that underwent initial recount — the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, where Robredo’s lead grew by 15,000 votes.

MARCOS: RULE 65 INAPPLICABLE

Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules allows the dismissal of the entire election protest “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.

In his motion for reconsideration, Marcos said his third cause of action for the annulment of elections in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao is separate and distinct, and can proceed independently of the result of the recount.

He pointed out that while his second cause of action for judicial revision and manual recount involved re-opening the ballot boxes in 36,465 clustered precincts, the same is not required in his bid to annul elections in 2,756 clustered precincts in the 3 Mindanao provinces.

He said he would need to compare the signatures on the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL) with those in the Voter’s Registration Record (VRR) to prove his claim of alleged massive presence of pre-shaded ballots and substituted voting in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan.

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Marcos rejected the application of Rule 65 to his entire election protest, saying the rule on 3 pilot provinces applies only to manual recounts. 

He cited the separate opinions of retired Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan. Peralta said new rules should be formulated for the annulment of elections while Gaerlan invoked Rule 74 of the PET Rules on amendment of existing rules.

Both Peralta and Gaerlan however concurred in the result and voted with the majority to junk Marcos’ election protest.

Marcos reiterated his contention that the 2016 Supreme Court ruling in Abayon vs House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal supposedly treated annulment of elections as separate from revision.

But the PET said Abayon only settled the HRET’s jurisdiction over election protests and could not be a binding precedent on whether an annulment of elections may still be entertained after revision since in that case, the prayer for revision was withdrawn.

MARCOS: SUBSTANTIAL BASIS FOR ANNULMENT PLEADED

Marcos also claimed that he pleaded substantial basis for the annulment of election results in the 3 Mindanao provinces since he invoked “ultimate facts” and is not required to present evidence at this time.

Ultimate facts, Marcos said, refer to important and substantial facts which form the basis for his election protest such as reference to pre-shaded ballots, massive terrorism, violence, threats, among others.

But the PET said these were “sweeping allegations of wrongdoing.”

Marcos said he was not given the chance to present evidence and even compared his election protest with Robredo’s counter-protest, which he said, “did not contain a single evidence” in support of her claims.

The PET did not get to evaluate Robredo’s claims because the burden in an election protest is on the protestant to establish his grounds for protest.

In a statement, Vice President Leni Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal, dismissed Marcos’ motion.

“Mr. Marcos would be the luckiest man in the world if he could reverse the unanimous decision by merely repeating the same issues and arguments already decided by the entire Presidential Electoral Tribunal,” he said.

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