Macalintal insists PET can’t disregard own rules
MANILA (UPDATE) – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday urged the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to release a copy of the report on the initial recount of votes in the electoral protest filed by losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos, Jr.
Robredo’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, filed a motion asking the high court to “furnish the parties with a copy of the Summary and Committee Reports on the revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from the three (3) pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo.”
This, he said, is in light of speculations that Marcos had allegedly won the electoral protest.
“Napakaraming espekulasyon. Nanalo na raw si Marcos, natalo na raw si VP Robredo. ‘Yang mga espekulasyon na 'yan ay walang katotohanan,” he told reporters shortly after filing the motion.
(There are many speculations that Marcos has won and VP Robredo has lost. Those speculations are not true.)
No less than Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, on Thursday, October 3, denied a reported 8-6 vote on the electoral protest in favor of Marcos.
Macalintal clarified that what the PET will determine for now is whether there is basis to continue with the electoral protest based on the results of the initial recount.
Rule 65 of the PET Rules allows the PET to conduct an initial determination of the basis for the electoral protest on 3 designated pilot provinces.
If the initial recount showed there was substantial recovery on the part of Marcos, the recount will proceed to the remaining 24 provinces and highly-urbanized cities that Marcos named in his protest, Macalintal said.
If there is no substantial recovery, the PET will dismiss the entire protest and affirm Robredo's status as VP, he added.
"Anuman ang mangyari bukas o sa mga susunod na araw ay mananatili siyang vice president," he said.
(Whatever happens tomorrow or in the coming days, Robredo will remain Vice President.)
The Robredo camp earlier urged the tribunal to junk the electoral protest, claiming that the vice president’s lead even grew by 15,000 votes when the initial recount ended.
The PET dismissed Robredo’s claim as “speculative” but it has not released details of the report of the commissioners.
SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed last month that Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa has already submitted his report to the SC en banc on the revision and recount of ballots on the 3 pilot provinces chosen by Marcos – Iloilo, Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental consisting of 5,417 voting precincts.
But Bersamin last week explained, the tribunal is not obliged to approve the report.
“When a report is issued, it does not necessarily mean that we have already to consider that report, approve it, adopt it etc… It’s not automatic otherwise we will not be a deliberative body, a collegial body,” he explained.
MACALINTAL: PET CAN’T DISREGARD RULE 65
Macalintal however insisted the PET is bound by its own rules.
He pointed out that the PET itself, on two occasions, had said it will follow Rule 65 of the PET Rules in deferring its ruling on Marcos’ earlier motion to conduct technical examination on 3 provinces in Mindanao.
Technical examination involves comparison of voters’ signatures between those in the records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and those on election day to determine if there was fraud.
“The Tribunal reiterates its previous ruling in its Resolution dated August 29, 2017 on the deferment of the technical examination. Rule 65 allows the Tribunal to conduct revision of ballots and reception of evidence on the designated pilot provinces first and on such basis, dismiss the protest if it finds that protestant will most probably fail to make out his case,” the motion said, quoting the PET’s July 2, 2019 resolution deferring Marcos’ motion to conduct technical examination in precincts in 3 provinces in Mindanao outside of the 3 pilot provinces.
According to Macalintal, this rule is mandatory and covers all other causes of action in the electoral protest.
Aside from asking for a recount, Marcos had also asked the PET to annul the elections in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan supposedly on the basis of alleged substituted voting.
Macalintal said the initial determination rule was applied in the electoral protest filed by former senator and now Antique Rep. Loren Legarda against former Vice President Noli De Castro.
In that case, the PET declared Legarda to have abandoned her claim to the VP post when she ran for the Senate and also gave weight to the hearing commissioner’s report that based on the initial recount, Legarda failed to make out a case.
Macalintal warned of the consequences if PET disregarded the initial determination rule.
“Kapag di sinunod ng PET (ang Rule 65), delikado yan. Dahil ang mangyayari doon sa Comelec, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, Senate Electoral Tribunal, regional trial court na humahawak ng mga kaso ay mababalewala na rin ang initial determination principle. Yan ang magiging dahilan para magkaroon ng anomalya sa mga susunod na protests,” he said.
(If the PET will not follow Rule 65 of the PET Rules, that’s dangerous. The initial determination principle will also be disregarded in the Comelec, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, Senate Electoral Tribunal and regional trial courts. That will be the reason for anomalies in upcoming protests.)
The PET is set to deliberate and vote on Caguioa’s report on Tuesday, October 8.
The camp of Marcos, meantime, said Robredo should "refrain from making a mockery of the legal process."
"Mrs. Robredo and her cabal should accord the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) the highest respect, cease bullying the honorable justices and stop deceiving the Filipino by requesting from the high court, through a preposterous motion, copy of something that she already has," Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said.