PET to Start Recount in Loren Protest; Noli Welcomes Move
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered the start on Dec. 12 of the retabulation of the Lanao del Sur election returns and revision of ballots involved in the electoral protest filed by former Sen. Loren Legarda against Vice President Noli de Castro. The vice president, meanwhile, welcomed the PETas move.
In a resolution, the PET also granted Legardaas motion to withdraw aspects of her protest covering the municipalities of Lanao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. The election returns from 10 municipalities of Lanao del Sur remained under protest.
Legarda had protested the proclamation of De Castro as vice president- elect in the May 10, 2004 vice presidential elections in a petition filed with the PET in July 2004. She alleged massive fraud in the accomplishment of the certificates of canvass and election returns.
The PET set the start of the process of retabulation and revision of ballots for Dec. 12. The process shall continue daily, except on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and other nonworking holidays, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The tribunal transferred "for security reasons" the venue for the recount of the ballots, as well as the storage of the ballot boxes concerned, to the PET office on the fifth floor of the Supreme Court- Court of Appeals Multi- Purpose building in the Court of Appeals compound in Manila. These include the ballot boxes retrieved from the House of Representatives building in Quezon City which had been stored in the old Supreme Court building.
The PET also reiterated its order to the Commission on Elections, dated March 31, 2005, to submit to it a certified true copy of the official project of precincts used in the May 2004 national elections. The Comelec was directed to submit the document within a non-extendable period of five days after receipt of notice. Opposition quarters have criticized the failure of Comelec to submit this document.
In its resolution, the PET required the protestant, Legarda, and protestee, De Castro, to also submit the names of their revisors and alternate revisors not later than Dec. 5, 2005.
The tribunal required Loren to make a cash deposit of P3,882,000 for the revision of ballots from 7,764 polling precincts in the six congressional districts of Cebu. It noted that Loren had made only a partial deposit for the entire electoral protest, whereas it would need P500 cash deposit per precinct to conduct the recount, which may only be sufficient to cover the salaries of the revisors. …