By Rey Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has ruled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should shoulder the storage costs of election materials kept abroad in relation to the protest filed by then Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Composed of the 15 members of the Supreme Court (SC), the PET denied Comelec’s motion for Marcos to pay for the storage costs.
The PET set aside Comelec’s claim that the election materials like ballot boxes and other paraphernalia could not be shipped back to the country because of the tribunal’s precautionary protective order (PPO) issued in connection with the protest.
The Comelec alleged that because of the PPO the election materials could not be brought back to Manila within the required period and thus additional storage costs were incurred.
It told the PET that for New York and Hong Kong posts alone, the additional costs have ballooned to over P4.5 million.
In denying Comelec’s motion, the PET ruled that the tribunal did not prohibit the poll body from shipping back to the Philippines the materials used abroad in the 2016 elections.
“There is nothing in the PPO that prohibited the physical transfer of the election materials and paraphernalia since the Comelec was merely required to preserve and safeguard their integrity. Thus, the Comelec’s proffered reason that its faithful compliance to the PPO has no basis,” the PET said.
It stressed that “… the PPO is clear in that the Comelec and its agents were ordered to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the election materials and paraphernalia which could be done even if they needed to be transmitted to Comelec Central Office.”
It pointed out that in many instances the Comelec had moved and had been granted permission to transfer the election materials used in the 2016 elections to its central office in Manila.
Thus, it said, the Comelec could have simply sought the permission of the PET to ship back the election materials abroad but “the Comelec made no such request.”
Tags: ballot box, Comelec should shoulder storage costs of election materials kept abroad, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Manila Bulletin, Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), storage, Supreme Court (SC)