What is PET Rule 65 and why are Robredo's lawyers bringing it up?

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
What is PET Rule 65 and why are Robredo's lawyers bringing it up?
Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, member-in-charge of the case, submitted a report on the recount and revision on the three pilot provinces – Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur – that covered 5,415 election precincts on September 10.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo has been on the agenda of the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, for weeks now.

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, member-in-charge of the case, submitted his report on the concluded recount of ballots from Marcos' three pilot provinces, the SC said September 10.

Since then, the justices have pored over the report, as they do in all cases, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin earlier explained.

A month has passed and the SC has yet to act on the report.

Bersamin earlier stressed that the SC is being “careful” in resolving the case as it involves “the credibility of our processes as well as the political system.”

READ: Bersamin: No 'foot-dragging' in Marcos poll protest vs Robredo

What does Rule 65 state?

Rule 65 under the PET Rules is under the Initial Determination of the Grounds for Protest.

The provision specifically discusses the dismissal of the protest, “when proper.”

It states that the Tribunal may order the protestant to pick at most three provinces “best exemplifying the frauds or irregularities alleged in his petition.” The revision or recount will then begin.

The provision further reads:

If upon examination of such ballots and proof, and  after making reasonable allowances into account, the protestant or counter-protestant will most probably fail to make out his case, the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of other provinces mentioned in the protest.

Rule 65 in Marcos’ poll protest

On Sept. 5, 2017, the tribunal issued a 34-page resolution on the preliminary conference of the poll protest.

In the said ruling, the PET cited Rule 65 of the PET rules and referred to the three pilot provinces as “test cases” by which it will “make a determination as to whether it would proceed with the Protest—that is, retrieve and revise the ballots for all the remaining protested clustered precincts—or simply dismiss the Protest for failure of the protestant to make out his case.”

The Tribunal reiterated Rule 65 in a July 2, 2019 ruling.

The tribunal acted on Marcos’ plea to conduct technical examination of ballots in Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, as stated in the third cause of action of his protest.

The PET said that it would defer conducting the technical examination because the proceedings under Rule 65 of the PET Rules—the recount of pilot provinces—were then ongoing.

The ruling stated: “Rule 65 allows the Tribunal to conduct revision of ballots and reception of evidence on the designated pilot provinces first, and on such basis, dismiss the protest if it finds that the protestant will most probably fail to make out his case.”

The PET also stated that it moved to defer action “until such time that an initial determination has been made on the protest, based on the explicit mandate of Rule 65 in the 2010 PET Rules.”

RELATED: Robredo camp asks tribunal for documents on pilot provinces' vote recount

October 15 en banc

Robredo's lawyers, Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo, reiterated Rule 65 in their latest Manifestation before the SC, filed Monday, a day before the SC en banc is set to meet and deliberate on the poll protest.

Chief Justice Bersamin had been careful in giving information on the voting on the said case. but in a chance interview last week, he said that there “probably” will be voting on the poll protest next en banc session, October 15.

He explained that the said vote will be on something that divides the court, and not about “housekeeping matters” such as “certain aspects of the case.”

The chief justice said that the public can expect “something definite” on October 15.








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