Roxas poll protest vs Binay still in preliminary stage
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II’s electoral protest against Vice President Jejomar Binay remains pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) four years after the vice presidential race.

It is not expected to be resolved before the 2016 polls.

Binay’s counsel Sandra Coronel told The STAR yesterday the case has remained in its preliminary stage. 

Coronel said the PET, comprised of 15 justices of the Supreme Court (SC), has not yet acted on preliminary motions from Binay and Roxas.

They have asked the PET to dismiss the protest for lack of merit and for being invalid, she added.

Coronel said they cited as grounds the failure of Roxas to comply with all requirements under PET rules.

“We have been questioning its validity due to failure of the protestant to pay the required fees,” she said.

Roxas has not paid the docket fees – reportedly amounting to P166 million – or even a deposit as the rules require, allegedly making the protest invalid, she added.

Coronel said Roxas has a pending motion for forensic examination.

“They are claiming they don’t have to pay until the PET rules on their motion for forensic examination, which motion remains pending,” she said.

“When we undertook preliminary conference before hearing officer, retired SC Justice Bernardo Pardo, we could not proceed to even identify the pilot provinces because they insisted in the court ruling first on their motion for forensic examination before moving on the merits of the petition.”

The pending motions are preliminary: the PET has not yet touched on the actual merits of the case, Coronel said.

A court insider told The STAR a resolution might not be expected before 2016, considering the lack of progress in the initial stages of the case, which also includes a counter-protest of Binay.

“Considering precedents, we may expect another moot case,” the source said.

The last time the PET acted on the case was in December 2012 when it granted a request of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to use 75 percent of the ballot boxes containing votes under protest by Roxas for this year’s elections to save the government more than P160 million.

Coronel said they prefer that the PET resolve the case before the next presidential election.

“We are still hoping that the Court will rule to dismiss the case before the next election,” she said.

The PET started hearing the protest and counter-protest in September 2010 when it designated Pardo as hearing commissioner.

It already took custody of the ballots used in the automated polls.

In April 2011, the PET ordered Binay and Roxas to answer a bid to allow the Comelec to use 5,000 ballot boxes for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections set in August of that year.

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