Bongbong Marcos presses Supreme Court to start probe into Mindanao votes

Lian Buan
Bongbong Marcos presses Supreme Court to start probe into Mindanao votes

(UPDATED) Vice President Leni Robredo calls this a circumvention of the tribunal rules as the current process is contained so far to 3 pilot provinces – Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is pressing the Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to start investigating allegations of fraud in Mindanao votes during the 2016 elections.

Marcos’ lawyer George Garcia on Tuesday, March 26, filed an urgent motion calling on the PET to resolve their initial motion filed in December to subpoena election documents that supposedly detail incidents of substituted voting in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo has already opposed this, saying it was a circumvention of the tribunal rules as the current process was limited so far to only 3 pilot provinces –  Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

Under the PET rules, the tribunal will conduct revision of ballots in the 3 pilot provinces, and then use the results to decide if there is basis to proceed with the rest of Marcos’ demanded recount.

“It is extremely premature and a deceitful way of circumventing the 2010 Rules of the PET,” Robredo said, saying that Marcos was skirting the process to expand the pilot provinces.

What is substituted voting? According to Marcos, the Commission on Elections – Election Records and Statistics Department (COMELEC-ERSD) conducted an investigation into the votes of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan and found some things questionable.

Marcos wants the PET to subpoena documents and reports from the COMELEC-ERSD.

Marcos said that 40,528 signatures and 3,295 thumbprints on the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List and Voting records (EDCVLs) of 508 precincts in the said provinces were not identical with the original and genuine signatures and/or thumbprints reflected on the Voter’s Registration Records (VRRs).

Marcos said former Sulu vice governor Abdusakur Tan had tipped him about this.

Marcos alleged there was already a report called the Dactyloscopic and Questioned Documents Reports from June 5, 2018, that could help the PET in its assessment.

Marcos claimed that  the COMELEC-ERSD “concluded that the 2016 national, local and ARMM elections have been marked with different forms of selection fraud such as massive substituted voting.”

Can the Mindanao provinces be looked into now? Marcos said in his urgent motion on Tuesday that he just wanted the PET to secure the documents and safeguard them.

Marcos said that expanding the provinces beyond the 3 pilot provinces was his third cause of action in his electoral protest. He believed that if the PET would look into his allegations, it could help the tribunal decide whether or not to expand the covered provinces.

Marcos said their discovery of the alleged substituted voting was a valid supervening event.

“It is humbly submitted that it would be the height of injustice if this Honorable Tribunal simply turned a blind eye on the massive substituted voting which attended the 2016 national, local and ARMM elections in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan,” said Marcos.

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the allegations in Mindanao involve mainly the gubernatorial race in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Gusto niyang gamitin ito, e nakapagtataka, hindi naman kami party doon sa nasabing kasong iyon. Iyon ay haka-haka pa lamang, gusto na niyang gamiting ebidensiya daw sa Korte Suprema,” Macalintal said.

(He wans to use this, which is puzzling, because we’re not parties to that case. That is only pure speculation, and yet he wants to use it as evidence before the Supreme Court.)

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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 or tweet @lianbuan.