Election court defers action in Marcos protest

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THE SUPREME Court declined to investigate alleged vote rigging in three Mindanao provinces for the vice presidential race in 2016 until it has finished its recount in three other places where losing bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” E. Marcos. Jr. claims massive cheating occurred.

In an eight-page ruling dated July 2 but released only yesterday, the court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal said it was premature to probe alleged cheating in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao provinces since it has not finished validating the votes in Mr. Marcos’s pilot provinces — Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo. It deferred action on the Marcos plea.

Mr. Marcos is challenging the results of the May 2016 vice presidential election that he narrowly lost to Maria Leonor G. Robredo. He had sought a probe of alleged cheating in the three Mindanao provinces, which Ms. Robredo opposed.

“Practical and logistical considerations also restrict the tribunal in proceeding with the technical examination due to its limited resources and manpower,” the high court said.

The court also rejected Ms. Robredo’s plea to resolve all pending incidents after the recount in Mr. Marcos’s pilot provinces, saying this was premature as well. Figures submitted by Ms. Robredo to prove her victory “are merely speculative,’’ the court said.

“She should stop misleading the public with her impetuous pronouncements,” Marcos lawyer and spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez said in a statement. “Politics is perception. All these delaying tactics, spread of false information and fake news by Mrs. Robredo and her cabal only prove how desperate they are.”

Ma. Bernadette Sardillo, Ms. Robredo’s lawyer, in a statement said they sought the early resolution of the election case “to prevent Marcos’s camp from spreading misinformation and propaganda.” “In the end, we are confident that Vice President Robredo will be vindicated and her victory confirmed,” she added.

In its July 2 ruling, the tribunal also gave election officials 10 days to explain the absence of ballot images in certain precincts in Camarines Sur.

Mr. Marcos, 61, is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, under whose government 3,000 people died and thousands more were tortured after he suspended elections and declared martial law in the 1970s. The younger Mr. Marcos won 14.1 million votes in 2016, higher than any candidate aside from President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Ms. Robredo. — Vann Marlo Villegas