Vice President Leni Robredo's lead over former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. increased after the manual recount in the three pilot provinces Marcos chose in his protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
According to the Supreme Court sitting as the PET, Robredo's lead in the three provinces — Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur — increased by some 15,000 votes.
The three provinces were selected by Marcos as part of his effort to prove that cheating happened in the 2016 polls.
"After the revision and appreciation, the lead of protestee Robredo increased from 263,473 to 278,566," the PET said in a resolution released Friday, referring to the overall, nationwide vote lead.
After deducting votes from sustained objections and adding ones earned due to admitted claims, the PET found that Robredo got 1,510,178 votes from the pilot provinces as opposed to Marcos' 204,512.
These figures are higher than the votes Robredo and Marcos got as reflected in the provincial certificates of canvass: 1,493,517 for Robredo and 202,136 for Marcos.
It also required the parties to comment on the report and to submit their respective memoranda on the "various issues relating to the jurisdiction and other matters relating to the third cause of action" within 20 days from receipt of notice.
Carpio and Caguioa dissented, arguing the case should have been dismissed.
Marcos' supposed third cause of action is the annulment of 2016 election results for vice president in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao due to alleged terrorism, violence, force, threats, intimidation, pre-shading of ballots, and vote substitution.
In its 57-page resolution, the tribunal said it asked for the parties' comments "to meet due process requirements."
"This controversy has spawned very serious but unfounded and
careless speculations on the part of many partisan observers who, on the
basis of incomplete information, would rather latch on to their favorite
conspiratorial theories rather than critically examine the facts and the law
involved in this case," the PET said.
"This Tribunal, however, will comply with its constitutionally mandated duty allowing the parties the opportunity to examine the results of the revision and appreciation of the pilot provinces as well as comment so that they are fully and fairly heard on all the related legal issues," it added.
The tribunal said it could "confidently and judiciously" discuss the proper cause of action based on the submissions of the parties.
Marcos is contesting Robredo's victory in the 2016 elections, which he alleged was a product of electoral fraud.
He chose the three pilot provinces under Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules, which allows a protestant or counter-protestant to indicate provinces that "best exemplify the frauds or irregularities" alleged in the petition and subject them to an examination of ballots.
The same rule allows the tribunal to dismiss the case if the justices are convinced that the protestant or counter-protestant “will most probably fail to make out his case.” —JST/NB, GMA News