The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to secure and protect the sanctity of ballots and all election paraphernalia in relation to an election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
The order came after the camp of Marcos pleaded with the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to issue a precautionary order to preserve the integrity and safety of all the ballots, ballot boxes, voters’ receipts, election returns, computerized voters’ list, audit logs, transmission results, log files and other documents and paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections.
During en banc deliberations of the electoral tribunal it ruled to issue summons and granted the prayer of Marcos in connection with Rule 36 of the 2010 Rules of the tribunal.
The Comelec is specifically mandated to perform its duty of preserving the election documents from the May 2016 vice presidential race.
Also, it ordered the preservation of the “automated election equipment and records such as Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), Consolidation and Canvass System [CCS] units, Secure Digital 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 the tribunal.”
Marcos, represented by election lawyer George Erwin Garcia, filed his election protest last June 29, stating that Robredo’s proclamation as Vice President is “null and void because the [certificates of canvass]generated by the CCS are not authentic, and may not be used as basis to determine the number of votes that the candidates for Vice President received.”
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes, accused her of “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning VCMs and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of Vice President, among others.
The former senator, son of late former President Ferdinand Marcos, lodged a 1,000-page petition against Robredo, who was accused of conspiracy to mount the biggest case of election fraud in the history of the Philippines.
Marcos pointed out that accuracy of the poll results and reported irregularities should be probed and done through immediate conduct of judicial revision or recount of ballots and examination, system audit and verification of the voter’s receipts, election returns and related-election documents.
He attached to his petition about 20,000 pages of affidavits, certificates of canvass and other supporting documents that he said would give crystal-clear proof of manipulation done by the Liberal Party, the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Smartmatic Corp. and the Comelec.