3 Mindanao areas must be ‘pilot provinces’ in VP poll protest

MANILA — An election lawyer on Thursday said former senator Bongbong Marcos should have considered three areas in Mindanao as pilot provinces in his recount protest.

Lawyer Sixto Brillantes, also former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman, said Marcos, in his poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, should have picked Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan as the pilot provinces instead of Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur.

“In that third cause of action, Marcos can surely recover and even take the lead in votes,” he said in an interview.

“Actually, if it were just up to me, I would have told Marcos that he should have used those three Mindanao provinces as his pilot provinces and not Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur,” Brillantes added.

He said the action may be taken, in the event that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) decides to annul the poll results in the three Mindanao provinces.

On the other hand, Brillantes said it would be unlikely to hold special elections for vice president in the Mindanao provinces, as elections have long been over.

“Election is over. This (petition) is for the annulment of results, not for failure of elections. There can be no more special elections,” Brillantes said.

“Failure of elections is only if the election isn’t over and there has been no proclamation yet. You’ll have special elections so that we will know the winner, the one that should be proclaimed. And Leni has already been proclaimed. Marcos just wants the votes annulled,” he added.

Omnibus Election Code states that “failure of elections may be declared on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes if the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns, or in the custody or canvass that resulted in a failure to elect”.

It added that in cases, wherein the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, a special election must be called.

Earlier, former Supreme Court chief justice Artemio Panganiban said the PET must call for a special election if it grants Marcos’ petition to annul the results of elections for vice president in the three provinces.

Marcos claimed that there was a widespread presence of terrorism, violence, threats, coercion, force, intimidation, and other anomalies in the elections held in the said areas.  Ferdinand Patinio / PNA – northboundasia.com