MANILA, Philippines – As the vice presidential electoral protest heats up, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin assured the public that there is no rigging of votes in one of the highest-stakes decision the Supreme Court (SC) has to make.
"Don’t worry, hindi ko niluluto. Hindi puwede lutuin 'yan (Don't worry I'm not rigging it. It can't be rigged)," Bersamin told reporters on Thursday, October 10, on the sidelines of the SC's launch of his memorabilia at the Judiciary Memorabilia Hall.
The question to the Chief Justice was whether the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has already acted on the request of Vice President Leni Robredo to have a copy of the report by member-in-charge Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa.
Caguioa's report is on the initial recount of former senator Bongbong Marcos' pilot provinces. The report was sent to the en banc on September 10, and it has been on the agenda for 3 times since then, but the en banc always deferred ruling. It is scheduled to be tackled on October 15.
Bersamin said the public can expect a "result" by then. He will retire on October 18. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: The Marcos vs Robredo electoral protest)
"This is something I can tell you: We are expected to have a result by next week. It may not be what you expect. We are still discussing many other things so that's all I can tell you," said Bersamin.
PET will 'probably' vote next week
Caguioa's report is up for voting by the en banc, composed now of 14 members. Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza retired on September 26, before the en banc could take a vote.
Bersamin said they will "probably" vote on October 15.
"Kapag sinabi ko vote, it is usually something about a controversial or an issue that divides the Court. We don’t need to take a vote kung walang issue like mga housekeeping matters about the PET, mga dealing about certain aspects of the case, 'yun tinatawag ko housekeeping. Short of the decision," said Bersamin.
(When I say vote, it is usually something about a controversial or an issue that divides the Court. We don't need to take a vote if there is no issue, like housekeeping matters about the PET, dealings about certain aspects of the case, those are what I call housekeeping. Short of the decision.)
Asked if the ruling next week is a housekeeping issue, Bersamin said, "We cannot tell."
"There may be a decision, there may not be a decision. But the reality is we are still considering whether there are already enough before us," said Bersamin.
On Wednesday, October 9, SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka warned the camps of Marcos and Robredo to refrain from talking about the case pursuant to the rule on sub-judice.
Before the PET is Marcos' second cause of action or the result of the initial recount from his chosen provinces.
Rule 65 of the 2010 PET rules says the pilot provinces have to be resolved first before the tribunal can move on. Marcos' third cause of action is to nullify votes in Basilan, Lanao del Su, and Maguindanao.
Marcos had wanted the PET to start technical examination of ballots in the Mindanao provinces, but PET had cited the "explicit mandate" of Rule 65 that they cannot proceed without resolving the pilot provinces first.
Citing reports, Robredo's lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the en banc "looks like" it would deny Caguioa's report favoring the Vice President and proceed to further recount.
"May mga bali-balita na mukhang kahit walang substantial [evidence], itutuloy raw. Parang hindi yata tama iyan dahil sa ilalim ng rules, 'pag wala kang nakita sa 3 probinsya, idi-dismiss iyan," Macalintal said over radio DZMM.
(There are reports that even though there is no substantial evidence, they would proceed. That does not seem right because under the rules, if you don't see anything in the 3 provinces, it should be dismissed.) – Rappler.com