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Robredo counsel: Marcos 'merely fishing for evidence' in poll protest

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday said former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos is "merely fishing for evidence" in his poll protest, as showed in his summary of arguments and evidence submitted to the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

"[H]is arguments and evidence in his election protest clearly exposed that he was merely fishing for evidence and not sure how he wants to proceed with his protest," Robredo's legal counsel Romulo Macalintal said in a statement.

Macalintal pointed out in a recent Supplement to the Motion for Reconsideration Pro Tanto that the PET Rules required Marcos and Robredo to name not more than three provinces "best exemplifying the electoral frauds and irregularities alleged in the protest and the counter-protest."

"Marcos named the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental; and yet he made a reservation to change any of these provinces," Macalintal said.

He said such reservation "is a clear manifestation that Marcos is merely fishing for evidence and not sure of his election protest."

"He could not establish which 3 provinces out of the 30 provinces and highly urbanized cities he protested could demonstrate his much talked about electoral frauds and irregularities," Macalintal added.

He also stressed that Marcos is "prolonging his protest" since he asked for technical and forensic examination of all the ballots, ballot images, voter’s receipts, names of voters in the voting list and Election Day Certified List of Voters (EDCVL) from the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

Macalintal said that such examination "involves 3,235,000 documents from said provinces as it would involve the 647,000 official ballots, and the corresponding 647,000 ballot images, 647,000 voter’s receipts, 647,000 names from the list of voters, and 647,000 names from the EDCVL."

He also hoped that Marcos will no longer claim that they are delaying the case.

"I hope Marcos will not now claim that we are delaying this case. It is as clear as the sunlight that the thrust to prove his case is merely to fish for evidence by asking for recount of ballots and technical examination thereof," Macalintal said.

"So much so that if he could not prove his case during the recount of ballots, he would now rely on the results of the technical examination. And this is not allowed under existing jurisprudence because once a protestant asked for recount, he could not disregard the results and seek other strategy," he added.

Moreover, Marcos' asking the PET to allow him to present all the Provincial Election Supervisors of the provinces, municipalities and cities he protested shows his "incredible position."

“Such move clearly shows the incredible position of Marcos because these Comelec officials have no competence and ability to identify said election documents and the equipment used during said election,” Macalintal said.

Marcos, son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, lost to Robredo by just 263,473 votes in the May 2016 election which the former senator claimed was marred by fraud.

The PET is set to hold a preliminary conference on July 11 in connection with Marcos' protest and Robredo's counter protest. —Marlly Rome Bondoc/KBK, GMA News