By Raymund Antonio
The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to uphold its rules in resolving the electoral protest filed by her opponent former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
On the eve of the release of PET decision on Marcos protest, Robredo’s lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo filed a 23-page manifestation asking the Tribunal to specifically abide by its Rule 65.
Under Rule 65 of 2010 PET rules, it would decide whether or not to proceed with the vice presidential protest based on the results of the initial recount of votes in the three pilot provinces.
The pilot provinces were Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, all of which were chosen by Marcos.
In their motion, the lawyers argued the PET can’t proceed with the protest should Marcos fail to recover 20 percent of Robredo’s overall lead on votes.
“Without any evidence, no matter how loud the cry of cheating may be, this election protest must be dismissed,” read their motion.
“Protestee Robredo still has the highest respect to the Honorable Tribunal that the rules will not be changed in the middle of the game,” they said.
Robredo’s lawyers pointed out the protest is not unique for PET to disregard Rule 65 since the electoral tribunals of Senate and House of Representatives and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) apply the same initial determination rule in the recount process.
Speaking to reporters in a media briefing, Macalintal said they filed the manifestation before the PET in light of speculation it will proceed to the third cause of action in the protest.
Marcos’ third cause of action was for the PET to nullify the votes in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao on allegations Robredo cheated in the 2016 vice-presidential elections.
“We have manifested before the Supreme Court, there is no third cause of action,” Macalintal said.
Sardillo explained Marcos belatedly raised the third cause of action in his protest last year when his lawyer asked the PET for the technical examination of ballots in these Mindanao provinces.
“All his submissions pertained only to two causes of action—the annulment of proclamation or the irregularities in the automated election system, and the second cause of action, pertaining to the recount,” she said.
While Robredo’s lawyers asked the PET to uphold Rule 65, they also reminded the Tribunal the same rule stated that results from the initial recount should be first re-examined.
“Rule 65 allows the Tribual to conduct a revision of ballots and reception of evidence on the designated pilot provinces first,” they said in the motion.
The PET is set to rule on Marcos case on Tuesday, October 15, three days before the retirement of Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.