By Rey Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has been asked to investigate an out-of-town party of its personnel and a revisor of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo that may “compromise” the results of the on-going manual recount and revision of ballots in the contested 2016 vice presidential election.
In a manifestation of grave concern filed by the lawyers of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the PET – composed of all Supreme Court (SC) justices – was told that 24 revisors and officers of the tribunal with a revisor of Robredo had an overnight outing at a resort in Pansol, Calamba last June 22.
The motion stated:
“Protestant Marcos received information that on Friday, 22 June 2018, there was an ‘outing’ at ‘3J’s Resort’ located at Lot 11, Barangay Pansol, Calamba City, Laguna which was attended by a party revisor for the protestee, Maria Leonor “Leni Daang Matuwid” G. Robredo (“Robredo”), together with twenty-four (24) Head Revisors, Alternate Head Revisor, Appraiser, Ballot Box Custodians/Handlers and Chief Tabulator of this Honorable Tribunal.”
Led by George Garcia, the lawyers told the PET that they learned about the overnight party “through the Facebook account of PET Head Revisor Maria Katrina (Che-Che) Rosales when she posted the photos of the ‘Pansol outing’ on Sunday, June 24, 2018.”
“Among the photos posted were those of the 24 PET personnel together with Osmundo “Ritchie” Abuyuan — who is one of the revisors of Robredo in the ongoing election protest of Marcos. Also seen partying with the group were Reycard Castro (PET Chief Tabulator), Hazel Magsipoc, Mohammad Disomangcop, Jennifer Pablo, Michaer Rebosura, Christine Enriquez, Noriesel Lalamunan, Irene Canada, Princess Bonetivo, Rosales, Hannah Pauline Medrano (all PET Head Revisors), Julius Tumalad (PET Alternate Head Revisor), Ellaine Francisco (PET Appraiser) Keno Moraleda (PET Head Ballot Custodian) as well as Martin Santos, Edwin Roque, Bryan Puntero, Elijah Mikaelson, Mel Darien Buensalido and Rogene Agudelo (all PET Ballot Box Custodians),” Garcia said.
But Garcia said that last July 2, in an “apparent move to rectify her mistake of publicly posting the incriminating photos of their ‘Pansol outing’,” Rosales deleted the photos from her Facebook account.
“Fraternizing with the party revisor for the protestee (Robredo) is obviously prohibited by this Honorable Tribunal since this act is proscribed not only by the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel but also by the Canon of Judicial Ethics,” he said.
He pointed out that the “Pansol outing” would imply that Robredo’s camp had already “infiltrated and curried favor with these PET personnel in order to manipulate, influence and control the revision proceedings and maneuver the results in her favor.”
“Protestant Marcos cannot help but wonder if the ongoing judicial recount and revision proceedings have been compromised given that the same is presided by the very same PET personnel who appear to be in cahoots with the protestee’s camp,” he added.
At the same time, Garcia said “the role of the head revisors are crucial in the ongoing revision of votes because they are the ones who preside over their respective revision committees and control the conduct of the judicial recounting of ballots.
“In fact, these head revisors and the alternate head revisors are in charge of initially determining whether the ballots found inside the ballots are valid, rejected or stray. They are likewise mandated to determine if the protested ballots comply with the 50 per cent shading threshold as originally decided by the PET,” he said.
“Consequently, it is imperative for this Honorable Tribunal to immediately investigate this incident and to impose the appropriate sanctions on these PET personnel, the protestee and her party revisor,” he stressed.
Earlier, the PET had ordered the treasurers of Tinambak and Tigaon towns in Camarines Sur and the members of the revision committees in two barangays in Iriga City to explain reported irregularities discovered during the ongoing manual recount and revision of ballots in the contested 2016 vice presidential elections.
In a resolution, the PET directed the town officials to submit their explanation in 10 days from receipt of notice.
For Tinambac town, the PET ordered the municipal treasurer to explain “plastic seals found inside the ballot box already wet, election return envelope not inside ballot box and cannot be found, envelopes for minutes of voting and torn ballots appear to have been previously opened, missing voter’s receipt box, and voter’s receipts found scattered inside ballot box.”
For Tigaon town, the municipal treasurer was also ordered by the PET to explain the questionable signature of the head of board of election inspectors (BEI) that “cannot be compared to any similar specimen in the other documents” and why several zip ties were not attached to the ballot box.
In barangays San Francisco and La Purisima in Iriga City, the members of the revision committee were ordered to explain the use of forms for minutes of votes with substantial discrepancies and the different signatures of BEI chair in the election documents.
Earlier, the PET had required town officials in Bato, Sagnay, Garchitorena and Ocampo towns in Camarines Sur to explain why ballots from their precincts were wet or damages.
The tribunal said the wet and damaged ballots compelled the revisors to refer to the decrypted ballot images in counting those votes after the manual recount and revision have been completed in Camarines Sur.
The PET revisors have also found what appeared to be irregularities in unused or excess ballots with shaded votes in favor of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, missing audit logs and missing voters’ receipts, and ballots with cigarette burns on their edges and holes in the middle portion.
The PET’s manual recount and revision of ballots that started last April have now shifted to those in Iloilo. Thereafter, the process will be done in Negros Oriental.
Marcos had identified the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental where there were alleged massive irregularities in the conduct of the 2016 vice presidential election.
Results of the manual recount and revision of votes in the three provinces would enable the PET to determine if it would proceed with the same process in the 27 provinces and cities named by Marcos in his election protest.
Marcos protested the results in 132,446 precincts in his protest filed on June 29, 2016.
Election records showed that Robredo was proclaimed vice president on the basis of her 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 votes more than those garnered by Marcos.
Robredo also filed a counter-protest against Marcos and the two cases had been consolidated by the PET.