January 22, 2019
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is near the end of the revision of ballots for the pilot provinces in PET Case No. 005 (Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. v. Maria Leonor G. Robredo), less than a year since it started. The revision involved 5,417 clustered precincts from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental and started in April last year.
On January 21, 2019, the revision of ballots was completed except for a few ballot boxes, which were referred to the Tribunal for further action, and the wet or damaged ballots, where the Tribunal directed the Revision Committee (RC) to use the decrypted ballot images provided by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). The revision proceedings for the remaining ballot boxes and decrypted ballot images will continue on January 28, 2019. In the interim, the Tribunal shall prepare for the use of decrypted ballot images in the revision proceedings.
After the revision proceedings, the next stage is the appreciation of the ballots following the Guidelines of the Appreciation of Ballots which was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on November 21, 2018.
The main task of the appreciation proceedings is for the Tribunal to rule on all objections and claims made by the parties during the revision.
The revision and appreciation proceedings are part of the Tribunal’s initial determination of the grounds of the protest, following Rule 65 of the 2010 P.E.T. Rules. Under Rule 65, the Tribunal shall determine, after an examination of the ballots and proof, and after making reasonable allowances and taking all circumstances into account, whether protestant Marcos will most probably fail to make out his case. If he will most probably fail to make out his case, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in his protest. If he will most probably make out his case, the Tribunal may move forward with the remaining provinces subject of the protest. Rule 65 states:
RULE 65. Dismissal; when proper. – The Tribunal may require the protestant or counter-protestant to indicate, within a fixed period, the province or provinces numbering not more than three, best exemplifying the frauds or irregularities alleged in his petition; and the revision of ballots and reception of evidence will begin with such provinces. 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.
Four election protests had previously been filed with the PET: the case filed by Miriam Defensor Santiago against Fidel Ramos (1992 presidential election); Fernando Poe, Jr. v. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2004 presidential election); Loren Legarda v. Noli de Castro (2004 vice-presidential elections); and Manuel “Mar” Roxas v. Jejomar Binay (2010 vice-presidential election). None of these protests reached the conclusion of the revision of ballots.