Instead of giving closure to Bongbong Marcos’s electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo for the Vice-Presidential poll in 2016, the Supreme Court (SC) approved to give Marcos side the chance to recount ballots from three provinces in Mindanao.
The high tribunal ended with 11-2 votes, allowing the release of committee report copies on the revision and appreciation of ballots in Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Occidental, that were named in Marcos’ petition.
SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the high court, convened as the Presidential Tribunal (PET), made the decision.
“[The SC] 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.”
The PET ordered the two camps to submit memoranda on the issues related to Marcos’ petition in 20 days from the receipt. Hosaka said this includes the plea for annulment of vice-presidential election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
Marcos’ election protest
Marcos suspected that there was no actual election happened in the 2,756 clustered precincts in the mentioned Mindanao provinces. He said this was because of the ongoing violence, terrorism, and threats to the three provinces back in 2016.
Hosaka admitted that the ruling remained in status quo as there is no resolution on the causes of action for number 2 and 3.
He said the tribunal has limited coverage of the discussions and has no ruling on these three pilot provinces.
“So, we would just wait for the comments to be submitted by the parties as well as the memoranda being required to be submitted on the third cause of action,” he concluded.
The second cause of action refers to the judicial recount and revision for the 30 provinces, starting with the former three provinces, which collectively has 39,221 clustered precincts.
The third cause of action asks for the annulment of the election results in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal, however, said this approval of PET with the recount of the votes “would be a fishing expedition”.
According to him, the rules say there should only be three pilot provinces.
He also said that once they already have a copy of the committee report, they would insist PET to dismiss opponent’s plea as Marcos failed to present substantial recovery.
Meanwhile, Hosaka clarified that the next report to be released was different from member-in-charge SC Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa’s report to PET.
Although admittedly, he has not yet seen the report of Caguioa on the three pilot provinces of Iloilo, Camarines Sur, and Negros Oriental, where the hope of Marcos of substantial win over Robredo lies.
In the PET voting, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Caguioa’s conflicted and Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr. was absent.
Hosaka said he had not seen the reason for their dissent, but a source said one of the justices dissented “because the protest should have been dismissed since Bongbong Marcos failed to make a substantial recovery in the three pilot provinces.”