SC denies Bongbong’s request for copies of decrypted ballots
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has denied the bid of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to secure original copies of decrypted ballot images and other poll documents for his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a four-page resolution promulgated last Jan. 10 but released to the media only yesterday, the PET rejected the plea of Marcos to keep the original copies of the poll records in the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental for the duration of the recount.

The tribunal only allowed the former senator to secure soft copies and photocopies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns and audit logs from contested clustered precincts of the pilot provinces “subject to the payment of incidental costs.”

“However, the custody of the official, printed and authenticated copies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns and audit logs from the protested clustered precincts of the pilot provinces should remain with the tribunal for the conduct of the revision proceedings pursuant to the 2010 PET Rules,” it added.

The camp of Marcos lamented the development as it accused Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the magistrate in charge of the case, of bias in handling the election protest.

“Senator Marcos had already made public last week the obvious bias of Justice Caguioa in his case and he said he would not be surprised if this kind of resolution would come out and he was correct. This is another clear confirmation that he is indeed biased against senator Marcos and in favor of Mrs. (Leni) Robredo,” Marcos’ lawyer Victor Rodriguez said in a statement.

Rodriguez explained that while the PET is a collegial body composed of 15 justices of the SC, it is Caguioa, as the ponente (writer) in charge of the case, who decides and issues the minute resolutions regarding his protest.

An appointee of former president Benigno Aquino III, Caguioa is the one who recommends to the tribunal the actions to be taken regarding Marcos’ protest and Robredo’s counter-protest.

Rodriguez said he could not see logic in the PET’s decision to deprive Marcos of the documents already paid for “only to give the same documents to Robredo for free.”

“It was senator Marcos who moved for the decryption and Mrs. Robredo even opposed it. When Tribunal granted it, it required senator Marcos to pay for the cost of decryption which has now amounted to P7 million and still counting. But Justice Caguioa does not want to give us the documents we paid for, saying the same should stay with the Tribunal and if we want copies, we should pay again,” he lamented.

By comparison, the PET granted as early as Nov. 7 last year Robredo’s motion to secure the soft copies without ordering her to pay a single centavo.

Marcos appealed the PET ruling but the tribunal also rejected it on Jan. 10.

“Indeed, senator Marcos has not been given justice in his election protest,” Rodriguez alleged.

Last week, Marcos in a news forum in Manila, condemned the “obvious bias” of Caguioa as he enumerated some resolutions he issued which he said were indicative of a pattern of bias against him and in favor of his opponent.

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