(Eagle News)–The poll protest of former Senator Bongbong Marcos should have been junked for his “failure to make out a case using his pilot provinces,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Alfredo Caguioa said.
In his dissenting opinion, Caguioa said the decision of the majority of the SC en banc to allow both the camps of Marcos and Vice President Leni Robredo to comment on the results of the manual recount covering Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur and to submit their memoranda on the effect of the results on the protestant’s second and third causes of action instead constituted a “refusal” to apply the 2010 Presidential Electoral Tribunal rules “when no reason exists for exempting” the protest.
“Rule 65 is clear,” Caguioa said.
The rule states that the tribunal may require the protestant to indicate the province or provinces numbering not more than three that best exemplify the frauds or irregularities alleged in his petition.
The rule adds: “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.”
“The majority puts forward questions to which are already obvious. By this failure to recognize the mandate, public purpose and wisdom of Rule 65’s unequivocal directive, all the hard work and effort put into the revision and appreciation for the past three years are wasted,” Caguioa said.
According to Caguioa, Rule 2 of the 2005 PET rules, which is replicated in Rule 3 of the same rules, also states that the “rules shall be liberally construed to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every contest before the tribunal.”
“Since the results clearly show protestant’s failure to prove his case, why not dismiss the protest now? Why is there a hesitation to strictly apply Rule 65?” he asked.
The SC has given both the camps of Marcos and Robredo 20 days to file their memoranda.
Marcos’ protest cites three causes of action: first, that the Automated Elections System was compromised, which means the integrity of the AES cannot be relied upon to declare a legitimate winner; the second asks for a manual recount of the actual ballots to determine the votes cast in all the 36,465 protested clustered precincts, and the third pertains to an annulment of election results for Robredo in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
The SC has dismissed the first cause of action.