Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should have chosen Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan as his pilot provinces that underwent ballot recount.
This was the advice given by Supreme Court (SC) Justice Marvic Leonen who penned the decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) that dismissed the Marcos election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“If, indeed, protestant was convinced of his claims in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, then he should have indicated those three as his pilot provinces. But he did not, to no fault of this Tribunal,” read the 93-page decision that was made available to the public this week.
In his election protest that contested his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential elections, Marcos sought three causes of action with the third asking for the annulment of election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan due to “terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters, pre-shading of ballots, and substitution of voters.”
“At bottom, the power to declare a failure of elections, and consequently conduct special elections, is lodged exclusively with the Commission on Elections. Meanwhile, an electoral tribunal, after determining ‘who among the candidates garnered a majority of the legal votes cast,’ is empowered to annul elections results for the contested position before it,” Leonen explained.
Instead of picking the three Mindanao provinces, Marcos chose Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Oriental as his pilot provinces for his second cause of action which “concerns whether protestant was able to determine if there was reasonable recovery of votes based on the results of the revision and appreciation of the protested votes in protestant’s chosen pilot provinces.”
In the 2016 polls, Robredo won by a margin of 263,473 votes after receiving 14,418,817 votes compared to the 14,155,344 votes of Marcos.
Following the recount of the pilot provinces, Leonen said “this Tribunal found that protestee increased her lead over protestant from 263,473 votes to 278,566 votes.”
“Rule 65 of this Tribunal’s Rules mandates an election protest to be dismissed when the results of the revision and appreciation of the ballots in the pilot provinces do not support the allegations of fraud or irregularities,” Leonen ruled.