Macalintal: Marcos bid to examine 3 new provinces an expedition to 'fish for evidence'
Voting 11-2, the high tribunal also allowed the release to the two parties of copies of the committee report on the revision and appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces named in the protest: Iloilo, Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental.
Combination photo, File

Macalintal: Marcos bid to examine 3 new provinces an expedition to 'fish for evidence'

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - October 16, 2019 - 1:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo’s lawyers said they would oppose the move of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to conduct a technical examination of three Mindanao provinces which they called a “fishing expedition.”

“We ask for dismissal because the report says applying Rule 65 [of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal], that report will show that there was no substantial recovery [for Marcos],” Robredo's lead counsel Romulo Macalintal said Wednesday in an interview over CNN Philippines' "The Source."

Macalintal was referring to the report on the recount of ballots from Marcos’ three pilot provinces that was written by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, member-in-charge of the case.

Rule 65 provides that dismissal of the case, when proper, can be done “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.”

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

Robredo’s lawyers are stressing Rule 65 before the tribunal, in a manifestation filed Monday.

But the SC, sitting as PET, instead deferred ruling on the case and ordered the release of the report on the revision and appreciation of ballots in the three pilot provinces, Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental. It also ordered the parties to comment on Marcos’ motion to proceed with a technical examination of ballots from Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

A source told Philstar.com that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio dissented from the majority as he believed that the case should have been dismissed because Marcos failed to make a substantial recovery in the initial recount.

Macalintal said that Marcos moving for an examination of three more provinces is against the rules and is proof that Robredo had already won.

“The fact that you’re asking for another three provinces only shows that we won in the three pilot provinces,” he said.

The veteran elections lawyer added that if Marcos had won in the initial recount, he wouldn’t have pushed for the technical examination of the three provinces in Mindanao.

“You’re only fishing for evidence. That’s enough. Our client would have to spend for this. It’s good for you that you have a lot of money, unlike our client,” he said.

“Fishing expedition [yan] 'baka sakali may Makita kami.'”

RELATED: Robredo hits Marcos: Between the two of us, I'm not a robber

Marcos spokesperson: We’ve batted for this long ago

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, rebutted that their move to conduct a technical examination of three Mindanao provinces has long been included in their protest.

“This is not new... We are not including this just now,” Rodriguez said in the same interview.

He explained that as early as the preliminary conference of the case in July 2017, the tribunal has long recognized that the move is part of their protest’s third cause of action.

“They already recognized this,” Rodriguez added.

In a resolution dated Aug. 29, 2017, the tribunal listed Marcos’ third cause of action as seeking the “annulment of election results for the position of Vice President in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao de Sur and Basilan, on the ground of terrorism, intimidation and harassment of the voters as well as pre-shading of ballots.”

However, the tribunal, in a July 2, 2019 ruling, 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.”

Asked what they would tell the court in the memorandum, Rodriguez said they would have to wait for a copy of the release of the revision report first.

“We’ll check if the findings of the committee are objectionable,” he said.

The lawyer, however, assured they would follow the Constitution.

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