Brillantes: PET decision to seek Robredo, Marcos comment on VP protest ‘abnormal’

Sofia Tomacruz
Brillantes: PET decision to seek Robredo, Marcos comment on VP protest ‘abnormal’
The former chairman of the Commission on Elections says due process was already observed when the tribunal allowed both comps to participate in the recount of votes through their revisors

MANILA, Philippines – Former poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr hit the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), for its decision to seek the comment of Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in the recount of votes from 3 pilot provinces in the vice presidential electoral protest.

Brillantes, one of the country’s foremost election lawyers, said the PET’S decision to seek both parties’ comments instead of deciding on the case outright based on the result of the recount of votes was “most unusual” and would only prolong the electoral protest. 

“The seeming claim of the PET that due process appears to demand for such comment by the parties is similarly abnormal,” Brillantes said.

Brillantes said this in a copy of his manifestation sent to Rappler on Tuesday, October 29. It lists his concerns on the PET’s resolution pertaining only to Marcos’ second cause of action.

Marcos’ second cause of action involves asking the SC to declare massive election fraud in over 36,000 precincts, including those in the 3 pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

Brillantes pointed out that due process, like in all other electoral protests, had already been observed by the fact that both Robredo and Marcos were allowed to participate in the recount of votes through their individual revisors. These revisors were allowed to raise objections and make claims on each and every ballot recounted. 

For Brillantes, this process “has always been regarded as the due process compliance without the need to direct the parties to make further comments after the Tribunal shall have promulgated its findings or appreciation.”

“One can only be apprehensive if the action taken after completion of the revision and the appreciation of the pilot precincts/provinces, the parties are still required to merely comment on such findings and appreciation – an additional process that is not generally required in all protest cases in any level,” Brillantes said. 

Instead of seeking comments from both Robredo and Marcos, Brillantes said, the “appropriate action” would have been for the aggrieved party to file a motion for reconsideration that would point out any errors made by the Tribunal in the recount. 

“It is therefore my respectful opinion and humble submission that when the PET released its findings and appreciation on the pilot precincts/provinces as contained in the formal resolution…the same cannot be altered, amended, modified, and altogether change and/or reconsidered through mere comments of the parties, without any formal motion for reconsideration having been filed by the agreed party,” Brillantes said. 

Brillantes said without formal motion for reconsideration filed by any party, comments should have “no legal or procedural consequence whatsoever, unless the PET would want to alter or modify motu proprio (on its own) its findings/appreciation on the basis of mere comments from the parties.”

Brillantes then warned that the SC’s decision to seek comment from Robredo and Marcos may lead to the same practice being adopted by electoral tribunals in the Senate, House of Representatives, Commission on Elections, as well as regional and municipal trial courts. 

“The net consequence of which is at most prolong adjudication of protest cases, which, under current circumstances and even absent any comment, is already most tedious, burdensome, and a very slow-moving procedure,” he said. 

Brillantes was known to take a low-key role in Marcos’ during the canvassing of votes in Congress, though insiders said Brilantes and some people in Marcos’ campaign did not agree on the issue of possible cheating in the 2016 elections. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.