Supreme Court to release initial recount results in VP protest

MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – In an anti-climactic resolution on Tuesday, October 15, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled to release the results of the recount of votes in the 3 pilot provinces in the vice presidential electoral protest.

The High Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), also asked the parties – Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr – to submit their comments on the following:

The parties are required to submit their memoranda to the tribunal "within a period of 20 days from receipt of the notice," SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

This means that there is no decision yet based on the results of the recount of votes in the pilot provinces.

The results in Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur are contained both in a report by the revision committee and in a report prepared by member-in-charge Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa.

"Yes [it's status quo], because there is no resolution yet on cause of action 2 and 3," said Hosaka. 

It is Robredo's position that if the recount of the pilot provinces picked by Marcos himself shows no substantial recovery of votes for Marcos, the protest should be dismissed altogether, without regard for his 3rd cause of action. (The PET earlier junked Marcos' first cause of action, which was to question the integrity of the 2016 elections.)

Robredo has urged the PET to "not change the rules in the middle of the game," referring to Rule 65 of the 2010 PET rules.

Rule 65 says that if there is no substantial recovery from Marcos' chosen 3 pilot provinces, "the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest." 

Two justices – Caguio and Antonio Carpio – took this position, voting to dismiss Marcos' protest altogether.

A court insider said Senior Associate Justice Carpio dissented from the decision to ask for comments on the 3rd cause of action because the protest should have already been dismissed when Marcos failed to make substantial recovery in the 3 pilot provinces. 

By their own records, the Robredo camp said the Vice President not only maintained her victory over Marcos in the pilot provinces, she even got 15,000 more votes in the recount. 

If the PET still proceeds to review election records from the 3 provinces in the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as what Marcos wants, the Robredo camp says the tribunal would be violating its own Rule 65. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: The Marcos vs Robredo electoral protest)

While the initial recount was ongoing, Marcos had urged the PET to simultaneously investigate the election documents – not just ballots, but all records that could show possible cheating – from the 3 ARMM provinces. However, the PET cited the "explicit mandate of Rule 65" in saying that it couldn't do so yet at the time.

Robredo defeated Marcos by just 263,473 votes in 2016 vice presidential elections, prompting the latter to allege cheating and file an electoral protest against her.

If Robredo's 477,985 votes and Marcos' 169,160 votes from Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Maguindanao are nullified, Marcos would lead the national count by 45,352 votes. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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