MANILA – The camp of losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has urged the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to set the date for the reception of evidence and submission of the affidavits of witnesses in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a motion dated Aug. 9, Marcos urged the Supreme Court, sitting as PET, to direct the previously-designated hearing commissioners to set the preliminary conference where dates for the submission of affidavits and evidence will be determined.
Marcos’ motion came 5 months after the PET completed the revision proceedings for the pilot provinces in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental on Feb. 8 this year.
Under the 2010 PET Rules, the PET may delegate the reception of evidence to a hearing commissioner who is a lawyer, who may then schedule the reception of evidence.
But the previously-designated hearing commissioners retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Vitug and lawyers Angelito Imperio and Irene Ragodon-Guevarra have yet to set the date for a preliminary conference, Marcos said.
“[P]rotestant Marcos is now compelled to humbly request this Honorable Tribunal to set the above-entitled case for preliminary conference in accordance with Rule 56 of the 2010 PET Rules so that the dates for the reception of evidence and the submission of the affidavits of the witnesses may finally be fixed,” he said in the motion filed through lawyer George Erwin Garcia.
“Public interest demands that this electoral controversy be resolved with dispatch to determine once and for all the genuine choice of the electorate for the contested position,” he added.
Marcos filed the electoral protest in June 2016 to contest Robredo’s slim lead of a little over 260,000 votes, the closest vice presidential race in recent memory.
He claimed massive and blatant fraud, accusing the previous administration of committing "traditional election abuses," including vote-buying, ballot-switching, tampering of the transmission system, intimidation, and failure of elections.
The camps of Robredo and the former administration have denied Marcos’ claims.
His spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, told ABS-CBN News the motion is meant to move forward with the electoral protest.
“This is significant because once evidence are submitted, the case shall now be elevated to the PET sitting en banc for their appreciation and resolution as to whether or not we have sufficiently established our case,” he said in a text message.
“We can expect the PET to resolve all issues and come out with their decision ordering either the continuation of the manual recount and judicial revision on all other contested areas, or, dismissing our election protest for failure to establish sufficient basis to warrant the continuance thereof,” he added.
In July, the PET denied Robredo’s claim of victory, calling the figures she cited “speculative” and her premise “fundamentally flawed.” Robredo had claimed her lead grew by as much as 15,000 based on the results of the recently-concluded revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from the 3 pilot provinces.
The PET also deferred action on Marcos’ move to conduct technical examination on ballots outside the 3 pilot provinces he initially chose.
The PET said its rules allow 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 the protestant will most probably fail to make out a case.