Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed hopes that the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will decide with dispatch on the electoral protest filed by former Sen. Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.
De Lima, a known election lawyer before she joined government service, said the PET should not delay once again its ruling on the long-pending electoral protest, and much less, be influenced with some "extraneous influences."
"It is no secret that Duterte is averse to a Robredo succession in case anything happens to him," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 613.
"I am hoping against hope that the predisposition of the appointing power does not influence or affect the decision-making of the justices, on an otherwise simple case of correctly applying grade school math," she added.
In the 2016 vice presidential polls, Robredo defeated Marcos -- a known ally of Duterte. Marcos, however, refused to accept his loss and filed an electoral protest against Robredo, blaming alleged "massive cheating" as the reason behind his electoral defeat to her in the polls by a margin of 263,473 votes.
Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the member-in-charge of the case, reportedly sent his report about the case during the PET en banc session last Sept. 10 but was still unacted upon by the SC justices. Deliberation on the case was yet again reset to Oct. 8.
The report is expected to contain assessment of the recount of the pilot provinces chosen by Marcos which covers 5,415 election precincts in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Sur - the three of which he claimed best exemplified cases of fraud.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, maintained that the PET case "is mostly a matter of correct arithmetic" because there "is little room for changes" in the original proclamation results through an appreciation of ballots.
"It is either the ballot reflects the intent of the voter and was correctly counted, or for some reason the machine rejected an otherwise perfectly valid vote or ballot. This is the only logical basis for any vote recovery in the pilot precincts," she said.
The lady Senator from Bicol also pointed out that she believes that the PET case is already a "hopeless case" for Marcos who reportedly failed to gain more votes against Robredo in the recount.
"Unfortunately for protestant Bongbong Marcos, the results of the revision and appreciation of ballots from the 25% pilot precincts apparently show that not only was he not able to demonstrate vote recovery sufficient to merit any further action on the protest. The fact is VP Leni recovered more additional votes than Marcos," she said.
"The only thing that is keeping Marcos going is the hope for extraneous influences that might affect the Court's decision. Otherwise, there is no reason for the Court to prolong the proceedings beyond the 25% pilot precincts," she added.
Prior to Caguioa's report, Robredo's lawyer Atty. Romulo Macalintal has urged the High Court in June 2019 to immediately resolve the election case, claiming what he deemed as a "clear victory" in the electoral protest.
Robredo's camp earlier revealed that unofficial numbers from the recount showed an increase of around 15,000 in her votes after the tribunal ruled to follow the 25 percent shading threshold.
Duterte has publicly and consistently expressed his fondness for Marcos and his father, late dictator and former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Source: Senate of the Philippines