Robredo asks PET to 'immediately' junk Marcos protest

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to “immediately dismiss” the election case filed against her by poll fraud accuser Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr after she widened her lead over him in the initial vote recount.  

In a 212-page memorandum dated December 19, 2019, which Rappler obtained on Wednesday, January 8, Robredo said that the electoral protest should be “immediately dismissed.” 

She said the additional 15,093 votes she got over the late dictator’s son in the initial vote recount conducted in the 3 pilot provinces that Marcos himself had picked – Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur – was enough basis to junk the electoral protest.

“Like the boy who cried wolf, protestant Marcos has lost all credibility to say that he was cheated out of the vice presidency. The result of the revision, recount, and re-appreciation of the ballots from his pilot provinces affirmed the victory of the protestee,” Robredo said. 

“It also confirmed what protestee has maintained from the very start – the allegations of massive electoral frauds, anomalies, and irregularities are unsubstantiated,” she added. (READ: Robredo to Marcos: How many times do I have to win for you to accept defeat?)

The Vice President argued that the PET would treat the Marcos protest a “special case” if it was not dismissed, given the “uncontested findings” of the initial recount. 

She once again cited Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules which states that if there was no substantial recovery of votes in favor of Marcos in the 3 pilot provinces, "the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.”

“All existing jurisprudence and rules of tribunals hearing election cases strictly follow and comply with the pilot precincts rule, such that if an election protest fails to pass the initial determination of its merits after a recount of its pilot precincts, then the ultimate end is the dismissal  of the protest at that stage of the proceedings,” the Vice President said. 

The PET’s report on the initial recount, promulgated in October last year, showed Robredo widening her lead over Marcos by 15,093 votes. 

Yet the PET did not dismiss the vice presidential protest and instead ordered both parties to comment on Marcos’ motion to nullify the election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, where Marcos claimed widespread electoral fraud. (READ: SC raises 4 issues with Marcos' motion to probe Mindanao polls)

Robredo said the PET would set a “dangerous precedent” if the justices would allow Marcos to “unduly expand” his pilot provinces.

Robredo had beaten Marcos by a slim margin of 263,473 votes during the 2016 elections, prompting the latter to allege cheating and file an election case against her.

Marcos is asking the PET to recount the votes in 36,465 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces in the country, his case's second cause of action. In his third cause of action, Marcos seeks to nullify the votes of 3 Mindanao provinces.

In 2017, the High Court already upheld the integrity of the 2016 elections against Marcos' first cause of action. 

Unlike Robredo, Marcos believed his 3 causes of action were “independent” of each other, meaning the junking of one should not affect the other parts of his protest.

This is why he has continued to urge the PET to immediately allow the technical and forensic examination of election data in the 3 Mindanao provinces in a separate memorandum he filed with the PET on December 19, 2019. 

Marcos also insisted the initial vote recount was “erroneous” and needed to be reconsidered and reviewed by the tribunal. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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