The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered the Commission on Elections (PET) to comment on the petition of Vice President Leni Robredo to set at 25 percent the threshold of shaded ballots which should be considered as valid in the ongoing manual recount of the 2016 vice presidential polls.
In a notice, PET Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta announced that the tribunal has directed the Comelec to file its comment “within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice hereof.”
The PET gave the directive after Solicitor General Jose Calida said his office does not want to file the comment on behalf of the poll body.
Robredo has a pending motion for reconsideration which asked the PET to overturn its April 10 ruling which denied her petition to set the threshold at 25 percent.
The PET is currently conducting a manual recount of the 2016 vice presidential polls based on the election protest of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and has set the threshold at 50 percent.
Calida has defended his position not to represent the Comelec before the PET regarding the threshold issue.
“As the People’s Tribune, it is the Solicitor General’s duty to present to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the Republic, notwithstanding the stance of his client, specifically the COMELEC, on the issue,” he said.
Calida reminded that “the Supreme Court acknowledged that ‘the Solicitor General may, as it has in instances, take a position adverse and contrary to that of the Government on the reasoning that it is incumbent upon him to present to the court what he considers would legally uphold the best interest of the government although it may run counter to a client’s position.”
On the other hand, Calida believes that the PET should uphold its position to maintain the 50 percent threshold.
“On the issue of the threshold that will be used to determine the validity of the votes, it is the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) which should determine the threshold, pursuant to its rule-making power under the Constitution,” Calida pointed out.
“The Constitution states that the PET has the sole authority to judge all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President and may promulgate its rules for the purpose,” he cited.