Former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to reexamine the preliminary results of the election recount arising from his poll protest against the proclamation of Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race.
In a memo filed on Dec. 19 last year, Marcos also urged the PET to proceed to his third cause of action seeking to annul the results of the elections in three Mindanao provinces.
Marcos’ memo was in compliance with the PET’s order last October for both parties to comment on its ruling that, based on the initial recount of three pilot provinces, Robredo’s lead over Bongbong Marcos even increased by more than 15,000 votes.
But Marcos said the preliminary appreciation committees “erroneously overruled his objections to the ballots counted in favor of Robredo “even though he was not given any opportunity to present his evidence in support of his pilot protest.
Marcos also questioned the ballots where the signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors were supposedly “glaringly different from the BEI signatures in other election documents and some ballots that were not shaded, which were allegedly counted as part of Robredo’s votes.
He accused the preliminary appreciation committee of adding the rejected ballots to Robredo’s votes “without first verifying the basis for the rejection of the ballot/s by the Vote Counting Machine and whether replacement ballots were issued to the concerned voter during the elections.
Marcos had identified the provinces of Negros Oriental, Camarines Sur and Iloilo as his three pilot provinces the subject of the initial revision proceedings.
Under Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, the protest may be dismissed “without further consideration of the other provinces if the protestant fails to make a substantial recovery during the initial recount proceedings involving the three pilot provinces.
However, Marcos assailed the application of this rule in his case, saying his third cause of action-the annulment of the election results in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan―was “separate, distinct and independent from his second cause of action―the judicial revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots―which the PET concluded last year.
According to Marcos, the second cause of action is based on the mis-appreciation in the counting of ballots that requires revision, appreciation while the third cause of action is based on terrorism, intimidation and harassment of the voters as well as the pre-shading of ballots resulting in the illegality of the ballots and the impossibility to distinguish with reasonable certainty between the lawful and unlawful ballots that warrants the annulment of the results.
“A dismissal of the entire protest under this rule does not apply where a separate and distinct cause of action for annulment of election results in certain identified precincts on the ground of terrorism is pleaded both in the body and relief of the protest is in this case. The protest can and must proceed independently of the result from the recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots, Marcos said.
Marcos cited a 2014 election protest before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal filed by Raul Daza against Harlin Abayon, which involved two causes of action and the HRET equivalent of the PET Rule 65.
He said Daza was even allowed to withdraw his first cause of action for the manual recount of the ballots while his other cause of action for the annulment of the results of the elections was allowed to continue.
As early as July 2017, Marcos had already moved for the technical examination of the ballots in the three Mindanao provinces in pursuit of his third cause of action, but the PET deferred the resolution of his motion until after the initial determination of the grounds for the protest under Rule 65.
Marcos also argued that even granting Robredo won in the recount of the ballots, her lead was “not mathematically insurmountable” so as to render his third cause of action moot.