MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — Bucking an anticipated ruling on whether to junk or proceed with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ election protest, the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, on Tuesday voted to release the report on the initial recount of ballots in 3 pilot provinces and require parties to comment, SC Public Information Office chief Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed Tuesday.
“[T]he 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 in a press conference.
This involves some 5,417 clustered precincts in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo, which were chosen by Marcos as his pilot provinces where an initial determination of the grounds for the electoral protest will be made.
The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo last week urged the PET to furnish the parties with a copy of the committee report in light of speculations that Marcos had allegedly won the election protest.
The Robredo camp is insisting the vice president’s lead even grew by as much as 15,000 votes after the revision and re-appreciation proceedings were completed early this year.
The report will settle questions about the results of the initial recount.
But Hosaka clarified the ruling of the PET was not in reaction to Robredo’s motion.
In the same ruling, the PET gave the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo 20 days to file their memoranda on Marcos’ motion to nullify results in 3 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao provinces.
“The Tribunal likewise required the parties to submit a memoranda on the various issues relating to the jurisdiction and other matters relating to the third cause of action, which is the annulment of election results for Vice President in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, within a period of 20 days from receipt of the notice,” Hosaka said.
Marcos is seeking to annul the elections in these 3 Mindanao provinces on account of terrorism, intimidation, harassment, and allegations that ballots had been pre-shaded.
According to Hosaka, 11 justices voted in favor of the PET ruling.
- Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin
- Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta
- AJ Estela Perlas-Bernabe
- AJ Marvic Leonen
- AJ Andres Reyes, Jr.
- AJ Alexander Gesmundo
- AJ Ramon Paul Hernando
- AJ Rosmari Carandang
- AJ Amy Lazaro-Javier
- AJ Henri Jean Paul Inting
- AJ Rodil Zalameda
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa dissented.
SC sources said the 2 justices dissented because the election protest should have been dismissed since Marcos failed to make a substantial recovery in the 3 pilot provinces.
Rule 65 of the PET Rules allows the PET to dismiss the election protest if Marcos failed to show substantial recovery in the 3 designated pilot provinces.
But Hosaka said there was no ruling on the application of Rule 65 yet.
Sought for comment, Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said that the fact that the parties were asked to comment on Marcos’ 3rd cause of action is already a departure from Rule 65.
He warned that proceeding into the annulment of elections in the 3 Mindanao provinces will amount to a fishing expedition.
With Tuesday’s PET ruling, Macalintal said Marcos was effectively given a second chance in his election protest.
But he also saw that the dissenting opinion of Justices Carpio and Caguioa confirmed Robredo’s victory in the initial recoun--that there was no substantial recovery on the part of Marcos.
And despite the 11-2 vote, Macalintal is optimistic their camp can convince the PET to eventually dismiss the election protest.
Tuesday’s en banc session was Bersamin’s and Carpio’s last session before they retire on October 18 and 26, respectively.
Magistrates will go on a writing break starting October 21 and will resume its en banc session on November 5.
The camp of Marcos said it was "shocked" over the high court's announcement as it awaited for a "more definitive decision" but said it would comply.
"Also because this case has been pending for the past 3 years. We’re not talking about a deferment for a week or 2, 3 taon na po itong kasong ito at ang pinaguusapan nating termino ng Vice President ay 6 na taon lamang," Marcos' legal counsel Vic Rodriguez told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
(We’re not talking about a deferment for a week or 2, this case has been pending for 3 years and we are talking about a 6-year term for Vice President.)
"Nonetheless, we are continuing the fight. The easiest and convenient way for him to do was to run for at least senator last May 2019. He opted not to because tatapusin po niya itong election protest na ito at kaniyang pananagutin ang mandaraya."
(He opted not to because he will finish this election protest and hold the cheater liable.)
Malacañang, meanwhile, said everybody should respect and follow the order of the high tribunal.
“As we have repeatedly said, we never interfere with the function, duty, or work of any co-equal branch as well as independent constitutional bodies,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.