VICE President Jejomar Binay asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to dismiss the election protest of former Senator Mar Roxas, saying it was a mere “face-saving" measure of a losing candidate.”
Roxas, in his election protest, sought to annul the proclamation of Binay as the duly elected vice president on the ground that there were about three-million votes that were not counted during the canvassing.
In his answer with a motion for preliminary hearing on Affirmative Defenses, Binay’s counsel Sandra Olaso-Coronel said the protest should be dismissed outright on the ground that Roxas failed to specify the precincts that would be covered by the revision of votes.
“Failure to make any specific mention of the contested precincts, as in this case, is a fatal omission as it goes into the very substance of the action,” the lawyer said.
She also asked the Court to immediately issue an order requiring Roxas to deposit the amount of P166,635,000 representing the amount required for the protest of some 333,270 precincts subject of the Protest, if computed at P500 per precinct.
She likewise asked that an order be issued directing the 76,340 ballot boxes containing the ballots used during the automated elections for vice president, including their keys and list of voters with their voting records, books of voters and other documents used in the aforementioned precincts during the May 2004 elections to be brought to the PET.
The PET was likewise requested to order the Board of Canvassers concerned to deliver to the custody of the tribunal certified copies of pertinent statement of votes by precinct corresponding to the protested precincts.
Binay threw back allegations of election fraud, anomaly and irregularity that figured in some 14,111 clustered precincts, equivalent to 59,696 established precincts in provinces comprising Regions VI, VII and Caraga, which Roxas admitted were his bailiwicks.
Binay said that in those areas, Roxas got a total vote of 2,780,760, while he only got a total of 1,229,624 votes. Despite these specific irregularities, he said the resulting number of votes that he lost as a consequence was not enough to overturn his overall lead.
Thus, Binay asked the PET to issue a precautionary protection order so that the 14,111 ballot boxes containing the ballots for the 59,696 clustered precincts in the three regions cited in his Counter-Protest, including their keys, list of voters with voting records, books of voters and other documents used in the elections should be brought before the tribunal.
Coronel said that the protest has no legal leg to stand on considering that the PET has no jurisdiction to rule on questions raised against the validity of the automated election system (AES) and the rules promulgated by the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).
She said the alleged failure of the AES to comply with the minimum system capabilities prescribed by law, or the forensic analysis sought by Roxas, are not issues that the tribunal can rule upon or even has a power to make such determination.
“Upon reading the instant protest, one is instantly struck by the abject failure of the Protestant to simulate a case that is properly cognizable by the PET,” the pleading stated.
Coronel said it must have been such a massive conspiracy to junk only Roxas’ name in the election process, considering that neither him nor his party raised any issue on the election of any of the new President or senators.
Last July 12, the SC found Roxas’s petition to be sufficient in form and substance and ordered Binay to comment to the electoral protest.
The PET resolves only election contests relating to the two highest government positions in the land, the president and vice president. A petition seeking the abolition of the tribunal, filed by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, remains pending. (JCV/Sunnex)