By Rey Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has denied the plea of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to investigate last month’s Laguna party of its personnel and a revisor of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
In a resolution released today, the PET – composed of all Supreme Court justices – said: “We deny the motion to investigate as the Tribunal has already commenced and concluded its investigation relative to the subject ‘Pansol outing.'”
In the same resolution, the PET directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to file in 10 days its comment on Robredo’s motion to reconsider its ruling that only ballot which were shaded at least 50 percent should be considered as valid votes in the ongoing manual recount and revision of ballots in the contested 2016 vice presidential election.
“Direct the Comelec to file its own Comment on the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration (of the resolution dated April 10, 2018) with Reiterative Prayer to Immediately Direct the Head Revisors to Use the Twenty Five (25%) Threshold Percentage in the Revision, Recount and Re-Appreciation of Ballots dated April 18, 2018 filed by counsel for protestee Robredo, within a Non-Extendible period of 10 days from notice hereof,” the resolution stated.
Earlier, the OSG had asked the PET to dismiss Robredo’s motion for reconsideration and affirm the ruling that only ballots that were shaded at least 50 percent should be counted as valid votes.
It said: “As the People’s Tribune, it is the Solicitor General’s duty to present to the Honorable Tribunal the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the State, notwithstanding the stance of the Comelec on the issue of whether the Honorable Tribunal correctly ruled that it has no basis to impose a 25 percent threshold in determining whether a vote is valid.”
In her motion for reconsideration, Robredo said that allowing a 50 percent threshold would disenfranchise voters because votes that fell below the 50 percent threshold have already been counted as valid by the vote counting machines and confirmed by the Random Manual Audit Committee.
She cited a 2016 Comelec letter stating that while voters were instructed to shade fully the ovals in the ballots, “the shading threshold was set at about 25 percent of the oval space.”
On the Laguna party, Marcos had asked the PET to investigate an out-of-town party of its personnel and a revisor of Vice President Robredo that may “compromise” the results of the ongoing manual recount and revision of ballots in the contested 2016 vice presidential election.
In a manifestation of grave concern, Marcos’ lawyers told the PET that 24 revisors and officers of the tribunal with a revisor of Robredo had an overnight outing at a resort in Pansol, Calamba on June 22.
The lawyers said 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.”
But in a counter-manifestation, Robredo’s lawyers told the PET that “protestant Marcos and his revisors were well aware of the said outing as they were invited as well. Surprisingly, it is only after more than two weeks that protestant Marcos is asking for an investigation.”
Her lawyers even asked the PET to release the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage that would show Marcos’ revisor Roderick Miranda delivering snacks at the tribunal’s office days before the outing on June 22.
“A CCTV footage will confirm Mr. Miranda leaving the bag of snacks in the fourth (4th) floor of the building,” they said.
“Protestant Marcos is asking for an investigation despite being fully aware that the Honorable Tribunal already conducted one. Worse, protestant Marcos feigns ignorance when by the actions of his own revisor, they were not only fully aware but acquiesced to the said outing by giving snacks,” they added.
The PET’s manual recount and revision of ballots that started in April have now shifted to those in Iloilo after finishing those retrieved from Camarines Sur. Thereafter, the process will be done in Negros Oriental.
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.