Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), composed of all Supreme Court (SC) justices, to reconsider its decision that dismissed his election protest against Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential election.
In a unanimous vote of 15 justices, the PET last Feb. 16 upheld the victory of Vice President Robredo.
Seven justices voted to dismiss Marcos’ protest while eight justices voted in the result – the dismissal of the protest. The decision was written by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen.
In his motion for reconsideration, Marcos told the PET to “proceed with the presentation of evidence for the third cause of action.”
Marcos’ protest against Robredo 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.
In his protest, Marcos named the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental as his pilot areas for the recount and revision of ballots.
In its decision, the PET said that “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.”
“What this Tribunal faces today is not an extreme case of fraud that deserves further consideration. Protestant failed to make out his case,” PET said.
“There is no substantial recovery of votes in the pilot provinces that he himself had designated. To entertain the third cause of action is to risk frustrating the valid exercise of the nation’s democratic will and subject it to the endless whims of a defeated candidate,” it said.
It pointed out that it could have dismissed the electoral protest under Rule 21 of PET rules – summary dismissal of election protest — but it pointed out that it decided to “painstakingly” hear every argument to afford due process to the parties.
Thus, the tribunal ruled that with Marcos failing to prove his case through his designated pilot areas, he can no longer insist on the annulment of the election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan, which was his third cause of action.
“Changing the rules this late in the game to grant the protestant’s third cause of action would not be a good precedent as it would tailor the Protest in favor of one party,” it stressed.
In his motion, Marcos asked the PET to direct the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) to conduct the technical examination of the voters’ signatures appearing on the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL) as against the voters’ signatures appearing on the Voters Registration Records (VRRs) in the protested clustered precincts of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan relative to the third cause of action.
He also asked the PET to conduct another preliminary conference and proceed with the presentation of evidence for his third cause of action.
He cited several grounds to justify the reconsideration of the decision. He said the tribunal erred when it ruled that his allegations were insufficient after ruling that his protest is sufficient in form and content.
He pointed out that the tribunal erred in not considering the annulment of election results as an independent, distinct and separate cause of action which can proceed on its own despite the dismissal of his action for judicial revision and recounting of ballots.
At the same time, Marcos said the tribunal erred in dismissing his third cause of action without affording him the opportunity to present evidence.
Reacting to Marcos’s motion, Robredo’s counsel Romulo Macalintal said:
“Mr. Marcos would be the luckiest man in the world if he could reverse the unanimous decision by merely repeating the same issues and arguments already decided by the entire Presidential Electoral Tribunal.”