By Rey Panaligan
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to compel the panel of commissioners the tribunal created to convene and conduct preliminary conference on the election protest he filed against Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
The panel of commissioners is headed by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug with lawyers Angelito C. Imperio and Irene Ragodon Guevarra as members.
In an urgent motion, Marcos’ lawyer George Erwin M. Garcia told the PET – composed of the 15 SC justices — that based on the tribunal’s rules, the panel of commissioners should convene for the submission of evidence and must set the preliminary conference.
“Unfortunately, despite the lapse of more than five months since the termination of the revision proceedings for the pilot provinces in this election protest, the designated hearing commissioners of the Honorable Tribunal have yet to set the preliminary conference in this case for the purpose of fixing the date for the reception of evidence and the submission of the affidavits of the witnesses,” Garcia said.
He pointed out that Marcos’ plea contained in the motion is in line with the PET’s “mandate to ensure a prompt and expeditious resolution of this election protest.”
Marcos’ protest covered 27 cities and provinces where, he claimed, there were massive frauds and cheating during the 2016 vice presidential election.
The provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental were identified by Marcos as his pilot provinces where ballots were subjected to manual recount and revision by the PET.
Based on the results of the recount and revision of ballots in the three pilot provinces, the PET will determine if it would proceed with the same process in the remaining areas subject of the Marcos protest.
Vice President Robredo also filed a counter-protest. The two cases were consolidated by the PET.
Robredo was declared winner in the 2016 election with 14,418,817 votes as against Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.
On the basis of the results, Robredo was proclaimed and has assumed the post of Vice President.