Report: Bongbong Marcos lost in PET recount
Report: Bongbong lost in PET recount
Social media was astir yesterday with reports citing Supreme Court sources that former Sen. Bongbong Marcos lost in the very provinces he had picked to prove to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal that Vice President Leni Robredo cheated him in the 2016 elections.
The NewsFront Philippines website posted figures from its source in the Supreme Court, whose 15 members sit as the PET en banc, that Robredo even improved her winning margin of 263,473 (upon proclamation) to 279,215 (upon recount) – or by 15,742 additional votes.
The website published what it said were “results after revision, recount and re-appreciation of the 5,415 merged/clustered precincts” from the pilot provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Sur that Marcos pinpointed as the areas with the worst cheating.
The still unconfirmed PET recount/revision scoreboard showed that instead of recovering a significant number of lost or stolen votes, Marcos gained only 4,191 votes while Robredo added 19,933 to her votes.
As we write this Wednesday noon, we have not heard of any reaction from the Supreme Court, especially regarding the numbers shown in the supposed scorecard said to be part of the report to the PET by Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, who is in charge of the recount-revision.
Under the rules for election protests, the protagonists are asked to specify three pilot areas where they allegedly experienced the worst cheating or fraud. Marcos submitted 5,415 precincts in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Sur (Robredo’s home province).
Overall, he protested the results in 25 provinces and five highly urbanized cities. Under Rule 65, however, he was asked to select three provinces that best exemplify the alleged cheating – something like “yung sa tingin niya merong pinakamatinding dayaan.”
The PET will make an “initial determination” of the merits of the protest based on the three pilot provinces listed by Marcos. After the submission of the recount/revision report, Rule 65 normally applies. The rule says:
Dismissal, when proper – The Tribunal may require the protestant or counter-protestant to indicate, within a fixed period, the province or provinces numbering not more than three best exemplifying the frauds or irregularities alleged in his petition and the revision of ballots and reception of evidence will begin with such provinces. If upon examination of such ballots and proof and after making reasonable allowances, the Tribunal is convinced that, taking all circumstances into account, the protestant or counter-protestant will most probably fail to make out his case, the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.”
When the revision of ballots in the pilot areas fails to show any significant recovery of votes, as in this Marcos vs Robredo case (assuming the NewsFront Philippines report is accurate), the protest is usually dismissed.
The Commission on Elections, the electoral tribunals of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and even Regional Trial Courts apply the “initial determination” rule – and if in the pilot areas the protestant fails to make any substantial recovery, the protest is dismissed.
The SC/PET, where nine of the 15 justices constitute more than a majority, can “set aside” the Caguioa report (assuming it has been accurately reported) and order the revision of more ballots in other contested areas. Is this not in effect changing the rules in the middle of the game?
As we asked in this space last Sunday, why prolong the conflict and not put a closure to the protest that has exacerbated partisan animosity and contributed to dividing the nation?