By Rey Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), composed of all Supreme Court (SC) justices, has denied last month’s plea of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo to resolve immediately all pending incidents in the electoral protest filed against her by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Robredo would have wanted the PET to dismiss Marcos’ electoral protest and to confirm her victory in the 2016 vice presidential election.
In a motion, Robredo told the PET:
“Without pre-empting the resolution of the Honorable Tribunal, the result of the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots clearly confirm the victory of protestee Robredo.”
She claimed that with the completion of the revision and recount in the three provinces — Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo — her lead over Marcos increased by over 15,000 votes.
But the PET, in resolving the motion, said:
“… the Tribunal has yet to complete the proceedings following Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, which entail judicial recount, revision, and appreciation of the votes cast in protestant’s (Marcos’) pilot provinces.
“The figures submitted by protestee (Robredo) are merely speculative.
“In arriving at the figures, protestee presumes that all her claims will be admitted by the Tribunal.
“This premise is fundamentally flawed as the Tribunal is still in the process of appreciation of the revised ballots and ruling on the respective objections and claims made by the parties thereon.
“The Tribunal’s final tally of votes after recount and appreciation has yet to be completed and released.
“Thus, the Court resolves to deny protestee’s motion on the ground of prematurity.”
The PET resolution was issued last July 2 but was released only Thursday morning (July 18).
The manual recount and revision of ballots in three provinces identified by Marcos in his protest started in April last year and ended last March 4.
The PET has yet to determine if it will proceed with the same process of manual recount and revision in 27 more provinces and cities covered in the Marcos’ protest.
Robredo was declared winner in the 2016 elections and was proclaimed vice president with 14.41 million votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14.15 million votes.
Marcos filed a protest while Robredo lodged a counter-protest and the two cases were consolidated by the PET.
In her motion filed last June through lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Robredo said that her additional votes came from “stray votes” or votes that were not counted by the machines because the voter only put a dot or merely checked the oval.
“The difference in the votes credited to the parties in the physical count of the ballots was due to the application of the 50 per cent percent threshold during the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots,” the motion stated.
“Those kinds of votes were not counted by the machines, but if revision and recount were conducted, these are counted and it showed that close to 15,000 votes on our part that were not counted by the vote counting machines,” it added.
Immediately after the filing of the motion, Marcos’ lawyer, Vic Rodriguez, said the PET has yet to release the figures from the results of the manual recount and revision of ballot.
“What they have at the moment are all self-serving assumptions meant to mislead the Filipino people who have long been waiting for the result of the election protest…, the early resolution of which Mrs. Robredo have time and again suppressed by her delaying tactics,” Rodriguez said.