PET ruling 'confirmation of bias' vs Bongbong Marcos, says lawyer

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr slammed the decision of the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to only provide him with soft copies of election documents in the first 3 provinces where an initial ballot recount will be held. 

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez said the PET’s latest ruling is a “confirmation of the bias” of Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the ponente, in connection  with the electoral protest Marcos filed against Vice President Leni Robredo

“Senator Marcos had already made public last week the obvious bias of Justice Caguioa in his case and he said he would not be surprised if this kind of resolution would come out and he was correct. This is another clear confirmation that he is indeed biased against Senator Marcos and in favor of Mrs Robredo,” Rodriguez said on Thursday, January 18. 

In a resolution dated January 10 but only received by the Marcos camp on Wednesday, January 17, the PET allowed Marcos to secure photocopies or soft copies of the decrypted ballot images, elections, and other reports for all clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. 

These are the 3 pilot provinces Marcos had picked where the initial ballot recount will be held beginning February.

The PET had said the merit of the rest of Marcos’ electoral protest will depend on the results of the ballot recount.  

In the same resolution, however, the PET denied Marcos’ motion that he be allowed to keep the original copies of the election documents. 

“However, the custody of the official, printed, and authenticated copies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns, and audit logs from the protested clustered precincts of the said pilot provinces should remain with the Tribunal for the conduct of the revision proceedings pursuant to the 2010 PET Rules,” said the PET. 

Rodriguez zeroed in on Caguioa, to whom the electoral protest was raffled off. The associate justice was an appointee of Liberal Party (LP) chairman emeritus and former president Benigno Aquino III. Robredo is the current LP chairperson.

Rodriguez said the PET was only ordering Marcos to pay for the decryption costs, while it allowed Robredo to gain access to the soft copies without payment

“It was Senator Marcos who moved for the decryption and Mrs Robredo even opposed it. When the Tribunal granted it, it required Senator Marcos to pay for the cost of decryption which has now amounted to P7 million and still counting,” said Rodriguez. 

So kami na pinagbayad ng lahat – toner, papel, suweldo – ayaw ibigay sa amin at pinagbabayad ulit kung gusto naming ng kopya. Si Mrs Robredo na nag-oppose ay matagal nang binigyan ng kopya at libre pa itong binigay sa kanya,” he added. 

(So even if they’re making us pay for everything – toner, paper, salaries – they still don’t want to give the documents to us and they want us to pay more if we want copies. Mrs Robredo opposed this a long time ago but they will still give her the soft copies for free.)

Marcos lost to Robredo by only 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential elections. He then accused her and the LP of robbing him of victory and filed his electoral protest.

The PET already ordered the start of the ballot boxes retrieval in Camarines Sur on January 23. 

Read the full copy of the PET's January 10, 2018 resolution below:

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/369410480/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-gc8cbHuhZqttwetLdrm1&show_recommendations=true " data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0. 6536231884057971" scrolling="no" id="doc_81054" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0">

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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