By Rey Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), composed of all justices of the Supreme Court (SC), said Tuesday there is no suspension on the manual recount and revision of ballots in the protests involving the 2016 vice presidential election.
In a press statement issued by the SC’s public information office (PIO), the PET said that the recount and revision of ballots in three pilot provinces identified by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his protest against Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo are almost complete less than a year after the proceedings started last April 2.
The PET said that as of Jan. 21, 2019, only left for recount and revision are the ballots referred to the PET for further action and those found to be wet and damaged.
In the case of wet or damaged ballots, PET said it had directed the revision committee “to use the decrypted ballot images provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“The revision proceedings for the remaining ballot boxes and decrypted ballot images will continue on January 28, 2019. In the interim, the Tribunal shall prepare for the use of decrypted ballot images in the revision proceedings,” the PET said.
It added that the manual recount and revision of ballots involved 5,417 clustered precincts from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.
It explained that “after the revision proceedings, the next stage is the appreciation of the ballots following the Guidelines of the Appreciation of Ballots” that was published on Nov. 21, 2018.
“The main task of the appreciation proceedings is for the Tribunal to rule on all objections and claims made by the parties during the revision,” the PET said.
It also said in its statement:
“The revision and appreciation proceedings are part of the Tribunal’s initial determination of the grounds of the protest, following Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules.
“Under Rule 65, the Tribunal shall determine, after an examination of the ballots and proof, and after making reasonable allowances and taking all circumstances into account, whether protestant Marcos will most probably fail to make out his case.
“If he will most probably fail to make out his case, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in his protest.
“If he will most probably make out his case, the Tribunal may move forward with the remaining provinces subject of the protest.”
The manual recount and revision of ballots in the protest filed by Marcos against Robredo started last April 2 at the SC-Court of Appeals gymnasium in Ermita, Manila.
The proceedings are being conducted behind closed doors by 36 sets of revisors supervised by a three-man ad hoc panel designated by the PET.
Results of the manual recount and revision of ballots in the three provinces would determine if the PET would proceed with the Marcos’ protest that covers 132,446 precincts in 27 provinces and cities.
Based on election results, Robredo was declared winner in the 2016 vice presidential election with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than the 14,155,344 votes garnered by Marcos.
Robredo also filed a counter-protest against Marcos. The two cases had been consolidated by the PET.
PET records showed that there had been four election protests filed with the tribunal. These were the case filed by the late Miriam Defensor Santiago against Fidel Ramos (1992 presidential election); the late Fernando Poe, Jr. v. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2004 presidential election); Loren Legarda v. Noli de Castro (2004 vice-presidential elections); and Manuel “Mar” Roxas v. Jejomar Binay (2010 vice-presidential election).
But it said “none of these protests reached the conclusion of the revision of ballots.”