MANILA - (UPDATED) The camp of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said Wednesday their bid to oust Vice President Leni Robredo is not yet over even after the Presidential Electoral Tribunal junked their motion challenging the authenticity of the automated system in the 2016 polls.
Atty. George Garcia, lawyer for the losing vice-presidential candidate, said they "highly respect" the tribunal's denial of their first cause of action, which they admitted "will not result to the proclamation of Bongbong Marcos."
"The ball is now rolling, the protest is now on its way. It’s wrong to say that the protest has been dismissed. It’s wrong to say that there was a full victory on the part of the other camp," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Hindi po tapos ang laban, tuloy-tuloy po yung paghahanap namin ng katotohanan," he added.
In a resolution dated August 29, Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, dismissed Marcos' first cause of action in his poll protest against Robredo, calling it an "exercise in futility."
"Even if protestant succeeds in proving his first cause of action, this will not mean that he has already won the position of Vice President as this can only be determined by a manual recount of all votes in all precincts," it said.
Marcos' second cause of action is for the revision and recount of votes; his third cause of action involves the nullification of votes in the vice-presidential race in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to terrorism, harassment, intimidation and pre-shading of ballots.
In its decision, Garcia said the court was "telling the protestant proceed to the right cause of action, proceed to the proper cause of action which will result in that event to the proclamation of Bongbong Marcos."
Garcia said their camp is also rejoicing over the fact that the high court junked Robredo's plea to dismiss the entire poll protest.
However, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, lawyer for Robredo, said the Marcos camp did not score "any major point" with the court's decision.
"I don’t know how they can still prove their protest. 'Yang dismissal na 'yan ng first cause of action, ang nangyayari ngayon sa protest ni Mr. Marcos, naghihingalo na yan," he said in phone patch interview with ANC's Headstart.
CAUSES OF ACTION
Garcia said to support their second cause of action, they have evidence to prove that "more than 51 percent of the voters were not the ones who voted on election day" in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.
"The Supreme Court merely set aside our motion to conduct the so-called technical examination. We will be able to prove that people who voted were not the registered voters because they were not the ones who signed on election day," he said.
"The SC merely said if the party is able to prove 51 percent of the voters were not the ones who voted or there was massive fraud, irregularity then that may result in the nullification of the results in all of these precincts or areas," he added, citing jurisprudence from the last election.
He said if they are able to prove this and the tribunal nullifies the votes in the three provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, it would show that Marcos won by a 45,000-vote margin.
The late dictator's only son and namesake lost to Robredo by about 265,000 votes.
Garcia said their camp will subpoena these documents, which are kept in the central and local offices of the Commission on Elections, and request that they be delivered to the PET.
Macalintal said, however, that the Marcos camp has waived presentation of testimonial evidence.
"If you waive the presentation of testimonial evidence, Mr. Marcos is now saying there was no vote-buying, no ballot-snatching, no terrorism, no violence," he said.
"Sabi nila, hindi na sila magsa-submit ng anumang ebidensya and they will just rely on the ballots…Paanong magsasalita ang balota? The ballots will not say, ‘Mr. Tribunal, nandaya po si Leni Robredo. Meron po ditong violence, intimidation.’ How could the ballots tell what happened? How could the ballots sustain the arguments of Mr. Marcos?,' he added.
Meanwhile, the tribunal granted Marcos’ plea for the decryption and printing of ballot images in 3 pilot provinces--Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental--for the physical revision or recount.
Macalintal said if "nothing has been proven by Mr. Marcos, we won’t be going to the annulment of the results of elections from Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao."
"Pag wala siyang napatunayan diyan, mababalewala, na-dismiss na yung kanyang kaso," he said.
"Judging from the results of the rendition of ballots and recount from provinces in local election protests, na wala naman nakitang anumang ebidensiya, ganiyan din ang mangyayari sa protest ni Mr. Marcos. Wala silang makikitang pagbabago," he added.
Macalintal once again challenged the Marcos camp to identify one clustered precinct where they could prove fraud and how many votes were fraudulent, alleging that they were merely "fishing for evidence."
"I am asking you, identify one specific precinct where you can recover and how many you can recover from the revision. If you can tell me the exact figure how much you can recover and if you can prove that, I will resign as the lawyer of Vice President Robredo," the seasoned election lawyer said.
Garcia said he will accept the challenge if the Robredo camp would "join the collection of ballot boxes immediately."
Pressed to identify just one, Garcia said it was "contained in their answer" but later named Precinct 3-A of San Juan, San Jose, Camarines Sur.
Garcia said if he would be required to identify one, that would be "bluffing" on his part because election protestants "are not required to present evidence ahead of the revision of the ballots."