The Presidential Electoral Tribunal has ruled that Vice President Leni Robredo has a case to answer in respect of electoral-fraud allegations lodged with the court by VP rival candidate, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. She has been given 10 days to respond.
Marcos filed his election protest on the eve of Duterte’s 30 June inauguration. In his 1,000-page petition, which was accompanied by 20.000 affidavits and other documents, he made two claims with respect to the 9 May election’s final outcome:
1. “The proclamation of Robredo as the duly elected vice president is null and void because the Certificates of Canvass generated by the Consolidation and Canvass System are not authentic and may not be used as a basis to determine the number of votes that the candidates for vice president received.
2. “Massive electoral fraud, anomalies, and irregularities, such as terrorism, violence, force, threats, intimidation, pre-shading of ballots, vote-buying, substitution of voters, flying voters, pre-loaded Secure Digital (SD) cards, misreading of ballots; unexplained, irregular, and improper rejection of ballots, malfunctioning of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), and abnormally high unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of vice president affected the results in 25 provinces and five highly urbanized cities consisting of 39,221 clustered precincts (protested precincts).”
The tribunal which is made up of all 15 Supreme Court justices also directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to:
“Preserve and safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes and their contents, including the ballots, voters’ receipts and election returns; the lists of voters, particularly the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List (EDCVL), and Voters Registration Records (VRRs), and the Book of Voters; the audit logs, transmission logs, and all log files; and all other documents or paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections for the position of Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, including the automated election equipment and records such as the Vote Counting Machine (VCM), Consolidation and Canvass System (CCs) units, Secure Digital (SD) cards (main and back up), and the other data storage devices in all of the ninety-two thousand five hundred nine (92,509) clustered precincts used in the May, 2016, elections, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Tribunal”.
Marcos also asked for a precautionary order to ensure that Comelec, city and municipal treasurers, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and technology providers Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation, preserve the integrity and safety of all the ballot boxes and their contents, the lists of voters – particularly the Election Day Computerised Voter’s List and voters registration records – and the books of voters.
He asked that this order should also cover telecommunication companies, IP Converge Data Services, Inc., all data centers, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, PLDT, and Digitel Mobile Philippines.
Given the propensity for long-drawn-out litigation in the Philippines which invariably involves tortuous counter claims, protracted appeals and interminable delays, Marcos versus Robredo is unlikely to be settled quickly. That said, however, it might be over sooner than we think. The administration will not want this cloud hanging over it any longer than is necessary and the slow pace of justice in the Philippines is also one of Duterte’s bête noirs. Electoral integrity in the dock