The camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. remains confident in winning its bid against Philippine Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo despite a recent court decision affirming the authenticity of the 2016 elections.
The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), earlier dismissed Marcos’ first cause of action in his poll protest against Robredo, which challenged the authenticity of the Automated Election System (AES) in the 2016 elections.
Atty. George Garcia, head of Marcos’ legal team, said they “highly respect” the court’s decision, admitting that the first cause of action “will not result to the proclamation of Bongbong Marcos.”
The former senator’s camp, however, stressed that the “fight is not yet over.”
“The ball is now rolling, the protest is now on its way. It’s wrong to say that the protest has been dismissed. It’s wrong to say that there was a full victory on the part of the other camp,” Garcia told ANC’s Headstart.
He claimed that they have sufficient evidence to prove that “more than 51 percent of the voters were not the ones who voted on election day” in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.
“The Supreme Court merely set aside our motion to conduct the so-called technical examination. We will be able to prove that people who voted were not the registered voters because they were not the ones who signed on election day,” he said.
In June 2016, Marcos filed an electoral protest against Robredo before the SC after she won the seat by a slim margin. Robredo won the position by only around 263,000 votes more than Marcos.
Marcos filed three causes of action in his protest.
In his first cause of action, Marcos called on the SC to declare all certificates of canvass used to proclaim Robredo’s victory as “authentic.”
Questioning the “flawed” AES, the former senator also claimed that the Smartmatic vote-counting machines (VCM) used for the automated polls lack “demonstrated capability.”
But in a resolution dated August 29, the high court junked Marcos’ first cause of action, deeming the hope to nullify the integrity of the 2016 polls as “meaningless and pointless.”
“Allowing the First Cause of Action to continue would be an exercise in futility and would have no practical effect,” PET said in its decision made public on Tuesday, September 5.
“Even if [the] protestant succeeds in proving his first cause of action, this will not mean that he has already won the position of vice president as this can only be determined by a manual recount of all votes in all precincts,” it added.
Several SC justices previously expressed apprehension over the possibility that the former senator’s electoral protest may put the entire nation’s election result last year into question.
In his second cause of action, the former senator asked for the manual recount of votes in 36,465 clustered precincts in 22 provinces and five cities.
Areas include Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo, Bohol, Quezon, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, 2nd District of Northern Samar, Palawan, Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City.
In his third cause of action, Marcos also sought the nullification of the vice presidential votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to alleged occurrence of “traditional” modes of cheating, such as vote buying, pre-shading, intimidation and failure of elections, among others.
“The SC merely said if the party is able to prove 51 percent of the voters were not the ones who voted or there was massive fraud, irregularity then that may result in the nullification of the results in all of these precincts or areas,” Garcia added, citing jurisprudence from the last election.
In its resolution, PET gave Marcos five non-extendible days to provide at least three witnesses per clustered precincts on the three questioned provinces.
“The Tribunal reiterates its directive to protestant [Marcos] to submit a new list of witnesses for the third cause of action by limiting the number of witnesses to three per clustered precinct and already identifying the concerned clustered precinct, within non-extendible period of five days from receipt,” the PET said.
“Protestant’s failure to do so will be deemed a waiver of his right to name and identify his witnesses and to present them during the reception of evidence,” it added.
Robredo’s camp, meanwhile, welcomed the PET’s ruling.
“The ruling’s effect is that the integrity and credibility of the automated election system [have] been upheld by the Supreme Court,” Atty. Romulo Macalintal, lead counsel for Robredo, said in a statement.