PET grants Robredo plea to secure copies of ballots

MANILA -- The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has granted the plea of Vice President Leni Robredo to secure copies of the ballot images in connection with the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr.

In a three-page resolution dated Nov. 7 but was only released to media this week, the high tribunal granted Robredo's request to be furnished soft copies of the ballots and reports from the decrypted secure digital (SD) cards from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, the three pilot provinces designated by Marcos for his election protest.

In her plea, Robredo said the Comelec assured parties during the start of the decryption process on Oct. 23 that it will provide soft copies provided the PET consents.

Thus, it would be for the benefit of the parties that they be allowed to secure the soft copies of the ballot images and other reports from the decrypted secure digital cards to protect their rights and interests in this election protest, the motion stated.

Robredo's legal counsel, Romulo Macalintal, welcomed the decision of PET, saying it will provide them with additional blanket of security to the votes received by Robredo as they decrypt the contents of the SD cards.

Marcos previously argued that Robredo did not contribute any share in the expenses and supplies, thus she should not be allowed by the PET to obtain the soft and even printed copies of the decrypted images of the ballots, election returns, audit logs and other relevant documents for all the protested clustered precincts of the pilot provinces.

In the same resolution, the PET denied Marcos' appeal last Aug. 29 seeking to allow the technical examination of voters' records from three Mindanao provinces.

The high tribunal ruled that 'no technical examination' can be conducted on the voters' signatures in each of the 2,756 clustered precincts in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan, the results of which Marcos wanted to be annulled, until the termination of the recount of ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

The former senator had asked for a technical examination in three Mindanao provinces over the alleged existence of fake voters.

He said the revisors need to examine each and every signature in the voter's list to ensure that the person who casted his vote was the actual voter.

Robredo opposed Marcos' motion, saying this will violate the PET rule that only three areas could be designated as pilot provinces for the recount.

With the denial of Marcos' motion for technical examination, Robredo's camp said Marcos has to content himself with the results of the recount of ballots from the three pilot provinces that will be the basis of the PET to determine if it will proceed with the protest of Marcos from other provinces or it will dismiss the protest for lack of merit.

We are highly confident that after such recount the PET will have all the valid grounds and reasons to dismiss Marcos' protest. For in the hundreds of election protest cases filed involving the 2010, 2013 and the 2016 automated elections, not a single election protest has been won by any protestant on the basis of a recount of the ballots, said Macalintal.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29 last year, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.

He sought the annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces � Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.

In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.

In his preliminary conference briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.

She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.

The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier this year, junked Robredo's plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.

Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos' 14,155,344 votes.

Source: Philippine News Agency