The group of defeated senatorial candidates who filled a petition at the Supreme Court to declare the proclamation of the 12 senators who were supposed to have got the highest votes in the 2013 election have the rule of law, truth, justice arguing in their favor.
The petitioners accuse the Commission on Elections of having committed grave abuse of discretion when it proclaimed the supposed-to-be winning senators “despite the questionable accuracy of the election returns that were sought to be canvassed.”
They are praying “that the National Board of Canvassers’ resolution no. 004-13 dated May 18, 2013 and the Senatorial Canvass Report No. 17, and other NBOC resolutions on various dates proclaiming as duly elected certain candidates for senators in the May 13, 2013 national and local elections be declared null and void.”
They argue—and we believe most Filipinos of sound judgment and patriotic bent agree with them—that the Comelec went ahead with the proclamation in spite of the commissioners’ knowledge that the manual count and the automated results that came out of the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines were at variance. The discrepancies were not slight. They were mostly massive.
The petitioners also correctly point out that the legally required manual audit was never completed.
They urge the High Court to take note of National Statistics Office statistician Florante Varona’s statement, made at a Senate inquiry, that the PCOS machines’ performance had failed to meet the percentage of accuracy required under the law and the Comelec’s contract with Smartmatic, the foreign corporation that supplied the machines and election paraphernalia.
The petitioners also point out that the Comelec had prematurely rushed the proclamation of the supposed-to-be winners. At the time the poll body executed the proclamation, it was impossible to know who the winners really were because the true count of the total votes cast was not known and there was “no showing of the number of remaining votes yet to be canvassed in relation to the total votes cast…”
The Comelec justified its action by claiming that the remaining votes that had not yet been canvassed would not have materially affected the results. But how could they ascertain that conclusion if the faulty PCOS machines could not be relied on to tell what the correct number was of total votes cast in each precinct?
The petitioners also asserted that the Comelec failed to include in its proclamation ruling and subsequent senatorial canvass report an “indication of compliance” with the authentication requirement for electronically transmitted election results.
“That the electronic transmissions were not even digitally signed is a conclusion that may be drawn from the failure of the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) to include in its final December 10, 2013 report that there were in fact digital signatures despite the commitment of its chairman to do so,” the petitioners said.
They pointed out that the Comelec ignored findings made by the TEC that extraneous lines found on ballot images caused an “overvote” resulting in an “automated dagdag-bawas.”
The petitioners cited the admission of Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes in the Senate hearing that in the case of the senatorial count “Baka nga ho nagkaroon kami ng accidental proclamation.”
The Comelec at one point also admitted that some 10,000 PCOS machines failed to transmit results.
The Justices of the Supreme Court have shown patriotism, sound moral judgment and correct appreciation of the cases they have ruled on.
We are dead sure that in their hearts the Justices would like to decide for the petitioners.
The only thing that might make them decide to rule against the petition is their worry about what would happen to the Philippine Senate without Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Gregorio Honasan, and Cynthia Villar.
They might opt to exercise “judicial statesmanship” and rule against truth and justice—and dismiss the petition.
We pray the Supremes do what is right in the eyes of the Highest Authority.