MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the integrity of the automated election system, which former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr questioned in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), junked Marcos’ first cause of action for the electoral protest.
The SC decision was dated August 29, but Robredo lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Maria Bernadette Sardillo released a copy of the document on Tuesday, September 5.
“Even if protestant succeeds in proving his first cause of action, this will not mean that he has already won the position of Vice President as this can only be determined by a manual recount of all votes in all precincts,” read the decision.
“And if this is a relief protestant has clearly stated he is not praying for, then, allowing the first cause of action to continue would be an exercise in futility and would have no practical effect,” it added.
Defeated vice presidential bet Marcos had accused Robredo’s Liberal Party of electronic cheating following the surge the latter’s votes during the unofficial canvassing, and the unauthorized script change in the system. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
Since Marcos questioned the credibility of the whole elections, the PET included the Commission on Elections as a party to the case.
The same August 29 decision ruled that ballot boxes will only be retrieved in the 3 provinces Marcos identified where initial recounting of votes will be held to determine if his protest has merit. These are Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. (READ: SC forms teams for revision of ballots in Marcos-Robredo election case)
Marcos originally wanted ballot boxes to be retrieved in 22 provinces and 5 highly-urbanized cities for the vote recount.
The decryption and printing of ballot images will only be conducted in the 3 provinces as well.
The PET also deferred action on Marcos’ request to conduct a technical and forensic examination of all ballots from the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur. These are the provinces where he wants votes nullified due to alleged election fraud. (READ: 2016 Bongbong vs Leni poll protest: What ARMM 'election fingerprints' say)
Macalintal welcomed the latest PET ruling, saying it proves that Marcos’ protest “has no basis” and he is “only fishing for evidence.”
“We are very, very happy with the results of this resolution of the PET, because from this resolution of the tribunal, it only shows that indeed, the protest of Mr Marcos has no basis. It is only based on some speculations and conclusions,” said Macalintal.
‘We look forward for an early dismissal of the case of Mr Marcos,” he added.
Lawter Victor Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesperson, was unfazed. He said they will respect the PET's decision even if they would have preferred the High Court to look into the alleged anomalies in the automated election system under the first cause of action.
“We respect the Tribunal’s decision and we will abide by it. We are glad that the tribunal share in our desire to expedite the disposition of this case the soonest possible time in interest of all the Filipino people especially those whose votes were not counted,” said Rodriguez.
"We have the case exactly where we wanted it to be, the conduct of manual recount and judicial revision and annulment of election result in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan," he added.
Read a full copy of the PET's decision below:
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