The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, disclosed on Tuesday that Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa has submitted his report on the results of the examination of ballots on the three pilot provinces cited by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his electoral protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
In a press conference, SC Public Information Office Chief Brian Keith Hosaka said Caguioa submitted the report on the results of the revision of the ballots on Monday but clarified that PET has yet to act on it.
“The Presidential Electoral Tribunal has concluded and finished the recount and revision of ballots in the three test provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Sur involving 5,415 election precincts,” the PET said.
“However, the tribunal has not taken any action yet on the said report of Justice Caguioa,” it added.
In his electoral protest, Marcos said he can prove that irregularities marred the conduct of the 2016 polls in the said provinces. Caguioa is the member-in-charge or ponente of the case.
Last week, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin assured the public that the Tribunal is not dragging its feet in the resolution of the electoral protest.
According to Bersamin, the PET is just being careful since it involves much more than just a mere decision but also the integrity and credibility of the electoral and judicial processes.
But he said then that Caguioa will soon file his report on the revision process of the ballots from the three pilot provinces.
After the Tribunal finishes its recount in the pilot provinces, it will decide whether to proceed in the vote revision on a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities identified in Marcos’ election protest.
Last July, the Tribunal dismissed the urgent motion filed by Robredo seeking the dismissal of Marcos’ election protest for being premature.
In her urgent motion, Robredo through her legal counsel Romulo Macalintal, said there was a need for the PET to resolve all the pending incidents as she claimed her lead against Marcos even increased by more than 15,000 votes after the revision, recount and reappreciation of the ballots in the three pilot provinces.
Last month, Marcos also asked the PET to set his electoral protest for preliminary conference following the completion of revisions in the three pilot provinces.
Marcos, through his lawyer George Garcia, said there was a need for the Tribunal to set the preliminary conference considering that it completed the revision in the said provinces last Feb. 8.
Meanwhile, Hosaka, citing the sub judice rule, reminded both parties not to discuss the merits of the case to the media.
“The Tribunal would like to again remind the parties that they are still subject to the subjudice rule pursuant to its resolution dated Feb. 13, 2018 and March 20, 2018. Hence, they are strictly ordered to refrain from making any public statements to the media with regard to the case,” he said.
Meanwhile, the online report indicating Caguioa was “under intense pressure” from the majority of his colleagues in the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the protest filed by Marcos against Robredo is nothing but “fake” news aimed at raising doubts on the impartiality of the SC justices, who concurrently constituted the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
A highly-placed source at the PET, who is privy to the electoral process involving the Marcos poll protest, denounced the report published in a news website as “false” and “hogwash” intended to “sow confusion” and “raise doubts” on the independence and impartiality of the PET justices.
The online report shows that Caguioa “is under intense pressure from SC majority to favor Marcos’ poll protest vs. VP Robredo.”
The source suggested that Justice Caguioa should immediately answer the news report to clarify whether or not there was indeed intense pressure from his colleagues in PET to resolve the poll protest in favor of Marcos.
“Justice Caguioa should be able to clarify all these insinuations in order to erase doubts in the minds of the public that hocus-pocus is ongoing in the resolution of the election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo,” the PET insider said.
“Kung manahimik lang si Caguioa at hindi siya tutugon sa mapanirang bintang ay malinaw na ‘fake news’ ang inilabas ng nasabing news website at obyus na galing ang nasabing fake news sa kampo ni Robredo kasi siya ang magbibenepisyo sa gawa-gawang balita,” the insider added.
The source noted that the “fake news” obviously came from Robredo’s camp because its publicity coincided with the protest rally held by “yellow” supporters before the Supreme Court to pressure the magistrates to concur to Caguioa’s ponencia on the Marcos poll protest, which was apparently included in the agenda of the Court en banc’s session.
According to the source, the Robredo camp was apparently apprehensive that Caguioa would not be able to convince his colleagues that he would be coming up with a correct and impartial decision, finally resolving the more than three years electoral protest of Marcos questioning the proclamation of Robredo as vice president due to massive cheating in the 2016 polls.