By Freddie G. Lazaro
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — To speed-up the proceedings, former Senator Ferdinand (Bongbong) R. Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to order the decryption and printing of ballot images from the clustered precincts of 30 contested provinces.
In a seven (7)-page Motion, Marcos’ counsel, George Erwin Garcia, moved to decrypt and print the ballot image from the Secure Digital (SD) cards and/or data storage devices from each of the 36,465 protested clustered precincts in the contested areas ahead of the scheduled preliminary conference on June 21, 2017 to hasten the process.
Garcia explained that the decryption and printing may be ordered by the Tribunal before the scheduled preliminary conference since the 2010 Rules of the PET allow any course of action that will expedite the proceedings.
“Rule 29(a) of the 2010 PET Rules enumerated the items to be considered during the preliminary conference, which includes among others, such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the election protest,” Garcia noted.
He added that such procedure will also “assist in the preparation for the recount proceedings and the presentation of evidence for the protest.”
The contested areas subject of the proposed decryption and printing of ballot images included the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo Province, Bohol, Quezon, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, Palawan, Albay, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan and Isabela; Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City and the 2nd District of Northern Samar.
Garcia said the decryption and printing of the ballot images will be conducted and supervised by the Election Records and Statistics Departments (ERSD) of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
He was however quick to note the motion is without prejudice to the conduct of the Judicial Recount/Revision, Technical Examination and Forensic Investigation of the paper ballots and/or the ballot images, voter’s receipts, election returns, audit logs, transmission logs, the lists of voters, particularly the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL), and voters registration records (VRRs), and other paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections.
The camp of the former Senator had also earlier asked the PET to assign three (3) hearing officers who will hear the three main issues in his election protest in order to fast-track the much-delayed proceedings.