Supreme Court forms team to examine ballots in Marcos vs Robredo vice pres. election protest

THE Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has formed a retrieval team to secure ballot boxes being questioned in connection with former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s electoral protest against Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

According to the court’s resolution dated August 8, the retrieval team is tasked to locate and examine all ballot boxes in the provinces and cities subject to the poll protest in order to facilitate its retrieval and transport to the SC compound in Manila for revision.

The revision stage is the third part of an electoral protest, in which the questioned ballot boxes will be opened and votes will be recounted and tallied through the use of vote-counting machines or manually and visually.

The SC Gymnasium will be used for the revision proceedings. The court also approved the use of two more areas, including the a portion of the fourth floor parking level of the SC-Court of Appeals Multi-Purpose Building, as well as a room at the back of the Division Hearing room.

Additionally, the resolution states that the Revision Committees will be composed of a coordinator who shall be a lawyer not affiliated with the court, and a recorder and a representative from both each the protestant and protestee.

Each Revision Committee will receive P1,500 per clustered precinct for compensation and supplies. The coordinator will receive P780, while the recorder will receive P480 for the recorder. P184 will be allotted for supplies and materials.

On the other hand, compensation of the members of the panel of commissioners were fixed.  Justice Jose Vitug as chairperson who will receive P50,000, while his members, lawyers Angelito Imperio and Irene Ragodon-Guevarra, will each receive P45,000 monthly.

Robredo won the May 2016 vice presidential elections with only just 263,473 votes more than Marcos.

In his electoral protest, the former senator questioned over 39,221 clustered precincts, composing of 132,446 established precincts. He has already completed the payment of his P66.2-million protest fee.

In a statement, Marcos’ camp welcomed the PET’s resolution.

“We cannot wait for the actual process to start because it is the only way we’ll be able to ferret the truth. We have always maintained that the ballots themselves are the best evidence in any election protest. This is the reason why we have always pushed for the early revision of ballots,” lawyer Victor Rodriguez, Marcos’s spokesperson, said.

“We hope that this will expedite the process so this issue can be settled once and for all. The Filipino people deserve to know their real vice president is,” he added.

Robredo, on the other hand, is contesting 8,042 clustered precincts, consisting of 31,278 established precincts  in her counter-protest. The PET has extended the vice president’s deadline to pay the remaining P7.43 million required to process her counter-protest.

On Wednesday, August 23, Piso Para Kay Leni group led by Museo Pambata chair Cristina Lim-Yuson asked the PET to reconsider its earlier decision dismissing their motion to pay the vice president’s remaining balance.

The petitioners, through their counsel, Purification Bartolome-Bernabe, the PET needs to reverse its earlier ruling as the issue is a matter of “transcendental importance.

“This is a necessary exercise of the right of suffrage considering that VP Leni will be deprived of her victory, we will be deprived of her victory because she is financially disadvantaged,” Bartolome-Bernabe said. (Dana Sioson/AJPress)

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