MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa has submitted his report on the result of the pilot recount in the vice presidential poll protest, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, September 10.
The en banc, which met Tuesday morning, has not made any action yet on Caguioa’s report concerning Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“The member-in-charge of the case, Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, submitted yesterday, September 9, 2019, a report to the Tribunal on the results of the said revision of ballots. However, the tribunal has not taken any action yet on the said report of Justice Caguioa,” said SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka in a news conference on Tuesday.
This means the SC sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has already finished recounting the ballots of the 3 pilot provinces chosen by Marcos, which covers 5,415 election precincts in Iloilo, Negros Oriental, and Camarines Sur.
Asked for the content or significance of the report, Hosaka said he cannot answer as he has not seen it yet.
Stage in the process
In what stage in the entire process is Caguioa’s report?
“Probably refer to rule 65 of the rules that was the basis for the recount,” said Hosaka. Rule 65 of the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal says simply that after examining the pilot provinces, the tribunal can decide to dismiss the protest or proceed to further recount.
Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal pointed out that the protest is now past the stage where hearing commissioners have reviewed the evidence.
Hearing commissioners are lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court, chaired by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Vitug, who will submit evidence to the tribunal.
“Ako naman ay naniniwala na kung anuman iyong report ni Justice Caguioa, iyon ay nababatay doon sa findings ng hearing commissioners. Kasi hindi naman puwedeng gumawa ng sariling report si Justice Caguioa sapagkat hindi naman sila ang nag-examine ng mga balota kundi iyong mga designated na hearing commissioners,” said Macalintal.
(I believe that Justice Caguioa’s report is based on the findings of the hearing commissioners. Justice Caguioa cannot make his own report because they were not the ones who examined the ballots but the designated hearing commissioners.)
Macalintal added that the other 14 members of the en banc must also uphold the hearing commissioners’ report.
“Hindi po puwedeng mag-deviate ang ating hearing commissioners doon sa naging resulta ng revision and recount, at hindi rin puwedeng mag-deviate ang Korte Suprema sa magiging recommendation or findings ng mga hearing commissioners,” said Macalintal.
(Hearing commissioners cannot deviate from the result of the revision and recount, and the Supreme Court cannot deviate from the recommendation or findings of the hearing commissioners.)
Marcos said in a statement that he had yet to receive any formal notice or decision from the PET.
He slammed the Robredo camp for “claiming victory” this early.
“We are appalled once more by the brazenness of Mrs Robredo and her Liberal Party in claiming victory in my still ongoing election protest just as the tribunal announced that no action has been taken by the court on the Caguioa report,” Marcos said.
“Clearly, there has been a concerted effort to intimidate and coerce the Tribunal with their underhanded mind conditioning tactics. We assure the Tribunal of our commitment to abide by the subjudice rule as what we have always done,” he added.
The result of the initial recount of ballots from pilot provinces will be PET’s basis on whether to continue the recount of other ballots.
In its latest resolution, the PET decided on 3 things:
- The PET cannot stop the protest now based only on Robredo’s claim of an additional 15,000 votes.The PET said Robredo’s claim is “merely speculative.”
- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has to explain the lack of ballot images in two clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, one of the pilot provinces
- The PET cannot yet investigate voting records in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao – as what Marcos wants – because it has to resolve the 3 pilot provinces first.
The PET has already upheld the integrity of the 2016 elections, which was Marcos’ first cause of action.
Hosaka reminded the Robredo and Marcos camps “that they are still subject to the subjudice rule pursuant to its resolution dated February 13, 2018 and March 20, 2018. “
“Hence, they are strictly ordered to refrain from making any public statements to the media with regard to the case,” said Hosaka.
Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin earlier said the PET is moving carefully “because the credibility of our processes as well as the political system here is at stake.” – Rappler.com