SC moves forward on poll protest, orders comment on Marcos' bid for nullification of Mindanao elections
On Oct. 15, 2019, the tribunal ordered the release of copies of report of Associate Justice Alfredo Caguioa to the parties and ordered them to comment on it. The PET also ordered the parties to comment on Marcos’ motion to proceed with his third cause of action, which is the technical examination of voting in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
SC moves forward on poll protest, orders comment on Marcos' bid for nullification of Mindanao elections
Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 30, 2020 - 10:09am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has moved forward on former Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo and ordered the Commission on Elections on pending issues on the case.

The SC Public Information Office said the justices, voting 12-0 on Tuesday, gave the Comelec and the Office of the Solicitor General to file its comment on the issues related to Marcos’ third cause of action in his poll protest.

In particular, this involves the annulment of elections in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao on the ground of terrorism, intimidation, harassment of voters and pre-shading of ballots.

Specifically, the Comelec and the OSG were told to comment on the following issues:

  • Whether the Tribunal is empowered by the Constitution to declare the annulment of elections without special elections and the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections
  • Whether the Tribunal’s declaration of failure or elections and then the ordering of special elections will infringe upon the Comelec’s mandate and power provided for in Article IX (C) (Sec. 2) of the Constitution

The SC PIO said that the Comelec is directed to report to the PET if petitions for failure or elections were filed in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao; corresponding resolutions to the said petitions, whether they were granted or denied; whether special elections were held in areas declared to have had a failure of elections in the said provinces; and the results of the special elections.

The Comelec and OSG are required to furnish their comments to the parties, while Marcos and Robredo are given 15 days from receipt of the comment to submit their replies to the SC.

October 2019 resolution

The PET’s latest action came almost a year after Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa submitted his initial report on Marcos’ second cause of action which covered the recount in his identified three pilot provinces.

Following the release of Caguioa’s report, the tribunal ordered the parties of Marcos and Robredo to comment on it. Their comments will be furnished to the Comelec and OSG.

PET said in the October 2019 resolution: “After the revision and appreciation, the lead of protestee Robredo increased from 263,473 to 278,566.”

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

PET, however, said it will “comply with its constitutionally mandated duty allowing the parties the opportunity to examine the results of well as comment so that they are fully and fairly heard on all related legal issues.”'

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s counsel, said they case should have been dismissed under Rule 65 of the PET, which discusses the dismissal of a poll protest “when proper.”

It states that: “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.”

The SC PIO said that the tribunal's latest directive was "in order to arrive at a full, fair, and efficient resolution."

Comelec and Solgen Calida

The OSG as government’s lawyer represented Comelec earlier in the issue on whether votes with 25% shaded ovals are considered valid. Robredo argued that Comelec resolution stated that the 25% threshold was the measure used by the machines in the 2016 automated elections.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said there was no basis to apply 25% threshold in the recount—the same stand taken by Marcos party on the issue.

Calida defended his stand in the issue and said as solicitor general, it was his duty to present a position “he perceives to be in the best interest of the Republic.”

Comelec filed its own comment on the threshold issue, through its own legal department, and said that the voter machines was calibrated to read as valid votes marks that cover at least 25% of the oval.

RELATED: PET sets aside 50-percent shading threshold for VP recount

The SC PIO said all justices, except Associate Justices Edgardo Delos Santos and Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla who were on leave, concurred with the resolution.

A full copy of the resolution has yet to be made public as of this story’s posting.

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