By Rey Panaligan
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to proceed with the process of annulling the results of the elections in three Mindanao provinces in his protest filed against Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
In his 809-page memorandum submitted to the PET, Marcos also asked the tribunal to re-examine the results of the appreciation of ballots conducted in his pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
The memorandum was submitted in compliance with the PET’s directive to both Marcos and Robredo.
In her memorandum, Robredo asked the PET to dismiss Marcos’ protest for his alleged failure to present any substantial recovery of ballots in the three pilot provinces.
The annulment of the election results in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan constitutes Marcos’ third cause of action in his election protest.
He pointed out that he sought he annulment of the results in the three Mindanao provinces based on terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters, and the pre-shading of ballots resulting to the illegality of ballots.
With the pre-shading of ballots, he said it was impossible to determine with reasonable certainty which of the ballots are lawful or unlawful.
In a memorandum, Marcos told the PET – composed of all the justices of the Supreme Court (SC) – his third cause of action is “separate, distinct and independent” from the manual recount and revision of ballots done in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental which he identified as his pilot provinces in his protest.
The recount and revision of ballots in the three pilot provinces had been concluded by the PET last year.
It was reported that results of the recount and revision of ballots in the three pilot provinces had been reported to the PET for deliberation.
However, instead of ruling on the results, the PET directed all parties to submit their comments and to file their respective memorandum.
In his memorandum, Marcos questioned several issues in the report containing the results in the three pilot provinces.
Among the issues raised by Marcos were the actions of the preliminary appreciation committees which “erroneously overruled” his objections to the votes counted in favor of Robredo without giving him a chance to present his evidence and in may instances where the signatures of the board of election inspectors (BEI) were “glaringly different” from those in other election documents.
As a result of the discrepancies, Marcos said the committees added the rejected ballots to Robredo’s votes “without first verifying the basis for the rejection of the ballot/s by the Vote Counting Machine (VCM) and whether replacement ballots were issued to the concerned voter during the elections.”
Marcos pointed out that his second cause of action in the three pilot provinces involved the misappreciation in the counting of ballots which require manual recount and revision. In the three Mindanao provinces, he said, he sought the annulment of the results.
Thus, he stressed, “the protest can and must proceed independently of the result from the recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots.”
He reminded the PET that as early as 2017 he had moved for the examination of ballots in the three Mindanao provinces.
Marcos’ protest against Robredo was filed in June 2016. Robredo filed a counter-protest. The two cases were consolidated by the PET.