The Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, is expected to order an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the turnover of “badly damaged” ballots from Naga City in Camarines Sur, the bailiwick of Vice President Leni Robredo, whose proclamation in 2016 is subject of a poll protest filed by her rival and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In an incident report by revisors, the PET received last week ballots and other election paraphernalia that were “badly damaged.”
The poll materials were apparently kept by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal for poll protests in the congressional elections.
Because of this, the revisors sought investigation, believing that the ballots from the bailiwick of Vice President Leni Robredo could be “purposely tampered in order to hide the real results of the elections in Naga City.”
Many ballots were either “torn into pieces” or “placed inside improvised ballot boxes made of carton.”
There were also many wet and unreadable ballots, according to the revisors.
The ballots from Naga City were part of the 366 ballot boxes delivered to the PET from the HRET last August 23.
The said ballots were previously revised at the HRET for an election protest against 3rd district Rep. Bordado. The remaining 366 ballot boxes will complete the 1,816 clustered precincts of Camarines Sur.
The late delivery of the said ballots to the PET has caused delay in the ongoing revision of votes in three pilot provinces identified in the protest against Robredo by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The recount has already completed two-thirds of the ballots in three pilot provinces - Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Earlier, the PET rejected the plea of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa to have the case re-raffled to another member-in-charge amid allegations of bias for Robredo camp by Marcos.
Marcos sought Caguioa’s mandatory inhibition and asked the PET to resolve his urgent motion.
Marcos said Caguioa should recuse himself from further handling the case due to his association with Robredo and the Liberal Party.
“Associate Justice Caguioa cannot deny that he is biased towards the ‘yellow brigade’ given his close ties with his friend and former boss, former president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III,” he alleged.
Marcos cited Caguioa’s fraternal bond with Aquino because they were classmates from grade school, high school and college at the Ateneo de Manila University—a fact which allegedly led to Caguioa’s appointment to various top posts during Aquino’s Presidency, including justice secretary and SC justice.
Marcos also informed the High Court of the relation of Caguioa’s wife Pier Angela to Robredo.
According to him, the magistrate’s wife was not only an anti-Marcos advocate but was also an ardent supporter of Robredo, having actively campaigned for her during the May 2016 elections.
“In light of the clear and convincing evidence of bias, partiality and prejudice exhibited by Associate Justice Caguiao and Mrs. Caguioa in favor of protestee Robredo, the continued presence and participation of Associate Justice Caguioa as the potent of the above-entitled case is a gross violation of the undersigned protestant’s constitution right to due process of law,” read the pleading.
Marcos stressed that Caguioa should immediately recuse himself from his protest in order not to taint the other members of the PET of any bias or impropriety.
He sought Caguioa’s inhibition over two years since filing his protest against Robredo and while the PET is in the middle of its manual recount of votes on three pilot provinces.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in the May 2016 national polls.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.