THE Supreme Court has allowed former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to get photocopies or soft copies of decrypted ballot images in his election protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
In a four-page resolution dated January 10 but released to media only on Thursday, the high court decided to keep original copies of decrypted ballot images and other documents in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, the three pilot provinces for the recount.
Marcos can secure soft copies and photocopies of the decrypted ballot images, election returns and audit logs from contested clustered precincts of the pilot provinces “subject to the payment of incidental costs,” said the court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Marcos lawyer and spokesman Victor Rodriguez lashed out at the decision and questioned why the former senator’s camp was being required to pay for the ballot copies when it had already paid for the decryption.
Moreover, the Robredo camp is not being required to pay at all, Rodriguez said.
The recent resolution, he said, confirmed the “bias” of Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, an appointee of Robredo’s partymate, former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, who is handling Marcos’ election protest.
“Senator Marcos had already made public last week the obvious bias of Justice Caguioa in his case and he said he would not be surprised if this kind of resolution would come out and he was correct. This is another clear confirmation that he is indeed biased against Senator Marcos and in favor of Mrs. Robredo,” Rodriguez said.
“It was Senator Marcos who moved for the decryption and Mrs. Robredo even opposed it. When the tribunal granted it, it required Senator Marcos to pay for the cost of decryption which has now amounted to P7 million and still counting. But Justice Caguioa does not want to give us the documents we paid for, saying the same should stay with the tribunal and if we want copies, we should pay again,” he added.
“In contrast, Justice Caguioa had granted as early as November 7, 2017 Mrs. Robredo’s motion to secure the soft copies without ordering her to pay a single centavo. Indeed, Senator Marcos has not been given justice in his election protest.”
In the January 10 resolution, the tribunal denied Marcos’ motion for reconsideration on its ruling granting soft copies to Robredo without her shouldering part of the decryption cost.
“So we paid for eveything – toner, paper, salaries – they don’t want to give it to us and we were told to pay up if we wanted copies [of the decrypted ballots]. Mrs. Robredo opposed it and yet would be given free copies,” Rodriguez said.
Last week, Marcos decried the “obvious bias” of Caguioa as he enumerated some resolutions which he said were indicative of a pattern of bias against him and in favor of his opponent.
Aside from the “inordinate delay” in his election protest, Marcos said some of the clear manifestations of Caguioa’s bias were: requiring him to pay his P36 million protest fee during the Holy Week break, producing 8,000 witnesses within five days, and deferring his motion for a technical evaluation of the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List without offering any explanation.
In contrast, Caguioa has been lenient with Robredo – giving her time to pay for her protest fee when the rules provide that non-payment may be a ground for dismissal of the counter-protest, resolving her motions after only a few days from filing and giving due course to all her motions that are clearly meant to delay the process, the Marcos camp said.