PET orders release of report on VP poll protest

THE Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Tuesday ordered the release of the committee report on the result of the revision of ballots in three pilot provinces involved in the poll protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo.

In a press briefing, SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said the PET’s majority ruling allowed the release of the committee report on the result of revision of ballots from 5,415 precincts in Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental, and Iloilo, which were chosen by Marcos, and for the parties to comment by filing memoranda on the “report” within 20 days.

“The Tribunal has decided to release to the parties the report on the revision and appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces and for them to comment thereon,” Hosaka said.

Hosaka said Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa dissented but declined to comment on the nature of the dissent, including the possibility that the two magistrates voted instead to dismiss the election protest outright.

“I was not told the basis of their dissent,” Hosaka explained.

The PET also required the parties to comment on the committee report as well as submit a memoranda on the various issues relating to the jurisdiction as well as about Marcos’ third cause of action seeking to nullify election results for Vice President in Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao on the ground of terrorism, intimidation, and harassment of voters, as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756, protested clustered precincts in the areas.

On Monday, Robredo pleaded before the Tribunal to follow Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, which entails judicial recount, revision and appreciation of the votes cast in protestant’s Marcos pilot provinces and argued that Rule 65 would result in the dismissal of Marcos’ electoral case, if, after the initial determination in the three pilot provinces, the latter was unable to show substantial recovery in his favor.

Robredo’s counsels also stressed that Marcos’ third cause of action in his protest should not take precedence over Rule 65, which states that results from the three pilot provinces should be examined first. The tribunal has already put off twice its deliberation on the case this month.

The outcome of the revision and recount of ballots in the said three pilot provinces would determine whether the PET will proceed in the vote revision on 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in the Marcos election protest.