The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is not expected to resolve this year the protest and counter-protest filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo in connection with the 2016 vice presidential election.
Based on its September 29 resolution, the PET still required several pleadings and documents not only from Marcos and Robredo but also from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
In a unanimous vote of 12 justices, with two of the 14 incumbent magistrates on leave, the PET decided to furnish the Comelec and the OSG with its Oct. 15, 2019 resolution that was issued after the termination of the recount and revision of ballots in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
The three provinces were named by Marcos as his pilot areas in his election protest filed in June, 2016. Robredo filed a counter-protest. The two cases were consolidated by the PET.
Among other issues, the Oct. 15, 2019 PET resolution stated: “Thus, based on the final tally after revision and appreciation of the votes in the pilot provinces, protestee Robredo maintained, as in fact she increased her lead with 14,436,337 votes over protestant Marcos who obtained 14,157,771 votes. After the revision and appreciation, the lead of protestee Robredo increased from 263,473 to 278,566.”
In the same resolution, the PET directed both Marcos and Robredo to file their respective memorandum.
Marcos’ protest has three causes of action – annulment of the proclamation of Robredo; recount and revision of ballots in 36,465 protested clustered precincts; and annulment of election results for vice president in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan on the ground of alleged terrorism; intimidation and harassment of voters as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts.
The SC’s public information office (PIO) said that in its Sept. 29, 2020 resolution, the PET directed the Comelec to report to the tribunal “if petitions for failure or elections were filed in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao; the corresponding resolutions to the said petitions (if granted or denied); whether special elections were held in areas declared to have had a failure of elections in the said provinces; and the results of the special elections.”
“The Comelec was also directed to comment within a non-extendible period of twenty (20) working days from receipt of the Tribunal’s resolution on certain issues related to the 3rd cause of action of the election protest, in particular the annulment of elections on the ground of terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters, and pre-shading of ballots in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao,” the PIO said.
Both the Comelec and the OSG were directed by the PET to comment within a non-extendible period of 20 working days on “whether the Tribunal is empowered by the Constitution to declare: a) the annulment of elections without special elections; and b) the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections.”
Also, the Comelec and the OSG were asked to comment on “whether the Tribunal’s declaration of failure or elections and then the ordering of special elections, will infringe upon the Comelec’s mandate and power provided for in Article IX (C) (Sec. 2) of the Constitution.”
Marcos and Robredo were directed to reply within 15 days to the comments that should be submitted by the Comelec and the OSG.
A copy of the Sept. 29, 2020 PET resolution was not immediately available.
Of the 14 incumbent SC justices, only Associate Justices Edgardo L. Delos Santos and Priscilla J. Baltazar Padilla did not participate in the issuance of the resolution. They are on official leave of absence.
In his memorandum filed early this year, Marcos asked the PET to proceed with the process of annulling the results of the elections in three Mindanao provinces.
He 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.
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.