THE Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has granted the motion of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to designate hearing officers to help the tribunal receive evidence in his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a resolution, the PET appointed retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose C. Vitug as the chairman of the panel of commissioners, while lawyers Angelito C. Imperio and Irene Ragodon-Guevarra were appointed members.
“The commissioners shall decide unanimously to every extent possible, provided that in the event of failure to reach a unanimous decision, the majority decision shall prevail,” the resolution said.
The tribunal mandated the three-person panel of commissioners to assist in the reception of evidence.
Under the rules, the panel shall set the date for the reception of evidence of all the parties involved in the protest and counter-protest. The same panel will receive the affidavits of witnesses and hear their direct testimonies as well as their cross, redirect and recross examination. The hearing commissioners also have the authority to rule on the objects made in the course of the cross-examination subject to review by the PET.
After the hearing, the hearing commissioners shall submit all the evidence presented as well as the transcripts of the proceedings before the PET.
The resolution said the chairman shall receive a compensation of P15,000 per day of hearing or service while the members shall receive a P10,000 per day of hearing or service. The OVP said it would issue a statement this weekend.
Marcos earlier sought the formation of a panel of hearing officers to expedite the proceedings in his election protest.
The first part of Marcos petition was about the Automated Election System . He said the vote counting machines which was one of the components of the automated system supplied by Smartmatic has no “demonstrated capability” nor was it ever successfully used in a prior electoral exercise either in the Philippines or in any other country.
The second part of his petition consists of the more “traditional” modes of cheating like vote buying, pre-shading, intimidation and failure of elections, among others.
He specifically asked for the reopening of ballot boxes in each of the 36,465 clustered precincts in Cebu, Province of Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo Province, Bohol, Quezon Province, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, 2nd District of Northern Samar, Palawan, Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City.
Marcos is also asking the PET to annul the election results in Lanao Del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao where the ballots had been pre-shaded and to order a recount of 22 provinces and five cities.
The third part of the protest focused on the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or program) into the Transparency Server as well as the effects brought about by the unauthorized change.
A preliminary conference is scheduled on July 11, 2017.
Marcos on Friday identified three provinces for the pilot manual recount and judicial revision of ballots in connection with his election protest against Robredo.
In his 81-page preliminary conference brief, Marcos identified Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental for the recount or revision because they will clearly show that there are major discrepancies in the votes cast in the ballots and those transmitted by the Vote Counting Machines and reported in the Certificates of Canvass .
“We are contesting 36,000 clustered precincts comprising of 30 provinces but we are looking at the numbers and we have seen that these provinces are very significant,” lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson for the former senator, said.
Rodriguez explained that of the six vice presidential candidates, five trace their roots to Bicol.
“But if you will check the numbers, Senator Francis Escudero only received less than 40,000 votes considering that he ran for public office several times,” he said adding that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, whose wife is from Albay got 14,601 votes. Senator Antonio Trillanes, who traces his roots to Albay got 11,334 votes while Senator Gregorio Honasan, whose mother is from Sorsogon garnered only 7,005 votes.
He also noted that there are almost 65,000 under votes in Camarines Sur. The three provinces, he said have a total of 300,000 under votes. Under votes are ballots not counted either because the voter did not vote for a certain position or there were unclear markings in the ballot.
“Again what is the significance or relevance of those under votes? It’s as if there were a seventh candidate for vice president hiding under the undervotes,” Rodriguez said in Filipino.
With respect to Iloilo, Rodriguez pointed out that it is extremely implausible that Robredo obtained 573,729 votes as against Marcos’ 94,411 votes when his running mate, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, was from the said province and they were warmly received by the Hiligaynons during their sorties there.
Negros Oriental, on the other hand, was chosen because Robredo’s supposed 248,102 votes as against Marcos’ 99,208 votes is dubious considering the fact that Marcos was supported by the biggest political families in the province.
The Marcos camp listed a total of 362 witnesses in the preliminary conference brief who may be called upon to testify and submit supporting evidence, including officials from the Comelec and Smartmatic.
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