Time a big factor in Marcos electoral protest – analyst
MANILA, Philippines – A political analyst said that time is a big factor in the electoral protest of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Ramon Casiple, chairman of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms, said on Friday, May 19, that it is important to take note of the speed with which the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) will resolve the case.
"What's happening actually is that the protest is following the same traditional process. Ultimately, the problem there is time, if the PET will really make the process faster," said Casiple.
Going by historical records, Casiple argued that Marcos' protest "will reach the next elections, particularly the 2019 senatorial elections."
"Mr Marcos would have to decide whether he will still run for the Senate or continue with the protest," he continued.
Marcos filed his electoral protest against Robredo in June 2016. He is questioning the results of the vice presidential race in over 39,221 clustered precincts, composed of 132,446 established precincts. In turn, Robredo is contesting the results in 8,042 clustered precincts, consisting of 31,278 precincts.
The Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, then decided several motions and appeals from both camps before it ruled in April 2017 to move forward with the case.
The PET set the preliminary conference for June 21, 2017. (TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
On average, it took close to 4 years for the PET to resolve previous electoral protests. (READ: Presidential Electoral Tribunal: What happens to a protest?)
Running for the Senate, said Casiple, "will basically [have an] impact on the case."
In instances like that, the PET "usually says it will be moot and academic, that the interest is not there anymore, and they will just drop the case. That is a real risk the Marcos camp will have to face," added Casiple.
He then argued that the Marcos camp's tactic now is "trying to push the PET to make the process faster." This is the reason, he continued, behind the Marcos camp's proposal to have 3 hearing commissioners, one for each cause of action in his electoral protest.
On that note, however, Casiple said that among the things the PET would have to consider is to make sure "that anything it will do and say will be non-controversial."
"Meaning, it will give leeway to the two sides, and that would eventually end up [with] fighting over every ballot that will be read. And you can imagine the time that will be spent."
"The possibility of Marcos being proclaimed [Vice President], for example, is not due to the content or the substance of the protest. The more important element is time. Will it reach that point where they can end the whole process of recount?" Casiple continued.
Casiple shared his thoughts on Marcos' electoral protest during a forum on Friday in Makati City, where Dr Francisco Magno of Stratbase ADR Institute presented the results of a study on the conduct of the 2016 elections.
Seeking the truth
Asked for comment, Marcos' lawyer Vic Rodriguez told Rappler in a text message, "Time is indeed a very important element in our election protest, which is not just the fight of Sen Marcos but his fight for the sanctity of each and every vote by the Filipino people that must remain sacred and supreme."
Rodriguez also said Marcos "wants the truth to come out and [has] committed to do so up to the final resolution of the case, even if it goes beyond 2019."
As to the speed of the proceedings, Rodriguez said there is a push to expedite it "because an election protest involves public interest to know who truly won the mandate of the people, and to delay it even for a day could result in the erosion of our people's trust in the electoral system."
"We deserve to enjoy the services and competence of the real election winner, and not let the unauthentic one continue discharging fake public service with the aid of a fraudulent mandate," Rodriguez added. – Rappler.com