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Bongbong asks PET to print ballot images prior to preliminary conference

Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to order the decryption and printing of ballot images from the clustered precincts of the 30 contested provinces subject of his poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Marcos' legal counsel, George Garcia, moved for the request last June 1, arguing that the decryption and printing of ballot images from secure digital cards and other storage devices from each of the 36,445 clustered precincts may be ordered by the tribunal before the scheduled preliminary conference on June 21.

“Rule 29(a) of the 2010 PET Rules enumerated the items to be considered during the preliminary conference, which includes among others, such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the election protest,” the motion stated.

Garcia added that such procedure will also “assist in the preparation for the recount proceedings and the presentation of evidence for the protest.”

The contested areas subject of the proposed decryption and printing of ballot images include the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo, Bohol, Quezon, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, and Camarines Sur.

Completing the list are Palawan, Albay, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan and Isabela; Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City and the second district of Northern Samar.

Garcia proposed that the decryption and printing of the ballot images be conducted and supervised by the Election Records and Statistics Departments (ERSD) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The former senator's camp earlier asked the PET to assign three hearing officers who will hear the three main issues in his election protest  in a bid to hasten the proceedings.

Marcos lost to Robredo by just 263,473 votes in the May 2016 election, making it the closest vice presidential contest since democracy was restored in 1986. —KBK, GMA News