PET tackles Marcos, Robredo protests in prelim conference

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — The Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), discussed on Tuesday the poll protest of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and the counter-protest of Vice President Leni Robredo.

In the preliminary conference, the magistrates outlined the issues raised by both parties in a closed-door hearing.

Marcos along with his lawyer, Atty. George Garcia, were present.

Robredo was not in the meeting, as she attended events in Naga City. She was represented by her lawyer, Atty. Romulo Macalintal.

After the hearing, Marcos said he was happy to see the protest moving forward.

"We have been waiting for this for over a year now. Siguro mahaba talaga masyado ang isang taon para mag-antay pa ang taumbayan na malaman ang katotohanan na makita talaga lumabas talaga at nabilang lahat ng kanilang mga boto," Marcos said in a press conference.

[Translation: We have been waiting for this for over a year now. Maybe a year is too long to make the citizens wait any further for the truth, to see that all of their votes have been accounted for.]

The PET has proposed the gymnasium inside the Court of Appeals for the area to conduct the manual recount of votes from the 2016 polls.

Earlier, Marcos had paid the ₱30 million balance of his P66-million poll protest fee to the high court, four days ahead of the July 14 deadline.

This covers the cost of the retrieval of the ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia in 39,500 precincts from 25 provinces and cities.

Read: Bongbong Marcos completes ₱66M poll protest fee

Robredo's camp also said the PET approved the extension of the deadline for the second tranche of her ₱15-million counter-protest fee worth ₱7.4 million. The fee was supposed to be paid in full Friday.

Read more: VP Robredo pays counter-protest fee upon SC's order

Both camps are given five days to respond to the preliminary conference guide issued by the PET.

The PET is set to issue a date for the pilot manual recount of votes for the three provinces mentioned in both camps' preliminary briefs.

Read more: VP Robredo, Marcos submit preliminary conference briefs

Invalidating the 2016 elections?

Robredo's camp, through lawyer Atty. Maria Bernadette Sardillo, said one of the issues brought up during the closed-door hearing was on questioning the integrity of the 2016 polls.

"Ang sinasabi nga ng isang mahistrado, hindi mo pwedeng i-surgically remove o ihiwalay ang resulta sa bise-presidente doon sa resulta sa ibang posisyon. Mula presidente hanggang sa konsehal," Sardillo said, referring to Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

[Translation: One magistrate said you cannot surgically remove or separate the poll results on the vice-presidency from the results on other positions: from the presidency to the councilors.]

Sardillo said that the results for the presidency and vice-presidency were in one certificate of canvass, meaning to invalidate the results for one would also invalidate the results of the other.

However, Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said it was only one justice who raised this concern.

"Much as 'yon ho 'yung teorya gustong i-pursue ng iba eh [that is the theory another party wants to pursue], we will stick with the jurisprudence na ang contest pong ito ay between the protestant and the protestee. And no other," Rodriguez said later in a press conference.

Marcos filed his poll protest on June 29 last year, seeking to nullify about a million votes cast in three provinces - Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao - for allegations of cheating from the Robredo camp.

Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes, 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.