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Defeated candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is not yet giving up on his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, as his camp claimed the entire case had not been decided yet despite the Supreme Court (SC) saying it was already dismissed.
On Tuesday, February 16, Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez insisted that the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), supposedly had only ruled on their second cause of action or Marcos' plea for a recount of votes in 36,465 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces.
Rodriguez claimed the PET had yet to rule on their 3rd cause of action, where Marcos wanted the annulment of votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
“Based on the official pronouncement made by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal today, the court unanimously voted to dismiss our second cause of action, which is the manual recount and judicial revision,” said Rodriguez in a statement.
“However, as to the issue on how to proceed with our 3rd cause of action, which is the annulment of votes in Mindanao, the Tribunal has yet to decide on the matter,” he added.
The Marcos camp's interpretation is contrary to what a highly reliable source told Rappler, that the PET dismissed the VP protest case precisely because Marcos did not sufficiently justify an annulment of elections in the 3 Mindanao provinces.
SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka also said the justices junked Marcos’ whole protest when a reporter asked him in a press briefing if the VP election case was junked in its entirety.
“The entire case was dismissed?” asked a female reporter via teleconferencing app Zoom. Hosaka replied, “The protest was dismissed.”
After the Marcos camp issued a statement saying that only the first and second causes of action were denied, the Supreme Court's Public Information Office (PIO) issued an amended briefer stating that the "entire electoral protest" has been "unanimously dismissed."
The PET’s ruling finally settled all 3 causes of action in Marcos’ election case against Robredo, who beat him by a slim margin of 263,473 votes in the 2016 polls.
In 2017, the High Court already upheld the integrity of the 2016 elections, against Marcos' first cause of action.
Then, in October 2019, the PET finished the pilot recount of Marcos' 3 chosen provinces under his second cause of action, where Marcos wanted a vote recount in over 36,000 precints. The pilot recount gave Robredo even a wider lead over Marcos.
Robredo argued then that the PET should have already junked the protest, since Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules stated that if there was no substantial recovery of votes in the pilot recount, "the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.”
But the PET moved to deliberate on Marcos’ 3rd cause of action to annul the vote results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
The High Court’s decision on Tuesday put to rest the electoral protest that Robredo had to face in almost 5 years.
Opposition senators and other lawmakers welcomed the PET ruling and urged both camps to begin the "healing process.”
Business leaders also applauded the SC for settling Marcos protest against Robredo, saying the decision "removes a major source of unnecessary and damaging political uncertainty" in the country. – with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com