THE Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, denied the appeal of the Commission on Elections to compel the camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to shoulder the accumulated storage fees used for the ballot boxes and other election materials abroad.
In a resolution released on Monday, the PET directed the Comelec to shoulder the accumulated storage fees used for the ballot boxes and other election materials abroad because they could not ship back to the country the election materials following the Precautionary Protective Order issued by the tribunal regarding Marcos’ protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The Comelec earlier said that for New York and Hongkong alone, the incurred storage fee was worth over P4.5 million.
The poll body argued that since the PPO ordered them to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the ballots and other election materials, they could not bring them back to the Comelec office in Manila within the required period and so the same had to be stocked in the foreign posts which resulted in additional costs.
However, the PET turned down Comelec’s assertion, saying the PPO did not prohibit them from transferring the ballots and other election-related materials to Manila.
“There is nothing in the PPO that prohibited the physical transfer of the election materials and paraphernalia; the Comelec was merely required to preserve and safeguard their integrity. Thus, the Comelec’s proffered reason that its faithful compliance to the PPO has no basis,” the PET resolution stressed.
It ruled, “(a)s mentioned, the PPO is clear in that the Comelec and its agents were ordered to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the election materials and paraphernalia which could be done even if they needed to be transmitted to Comelec Central Office.”
In fact, on several occasions the Comelec, despite the PPO, had moved and was granted permission by the Tribunal to move election materials.
This is the reason why, said the Tribunal, it could not understand why the Comelec did not make a similar move on the ballot materials in the custody of foreign posts.
“As to why it would treat differently materials and paraphernalia in the custody of the Posts escapes this Tribunal as the PPO did not make such distinction. Indeed, the Comelec could have simply secured permission from the Tribunal for their transfer to the Comelec Central Office. The Comelec made no such request,” the PET added.
The PET declared that ordering Marcos to pay for such expenses was unwarranted since he did not prevent the poll body from removing the materials from the foreign posts.
PET said: “Protestant never requested that the election materials and paraphernalia be physically retained in the custody of the Posts.
“Rather, it was the Comelec that made the decision not to instruct the Posts to transmit the election materials and paraphernalia to the Comelec Central Office, despite the absence of any prohibition for the same.
“Had the Comelec made such instruction, the Subject Expenses would not have been incurred. Accordingly, the Comelec must bear the responsibility of paying for the Subject Expenses incurred by the Posts.”
Marcos’ spokesman lawyer Victor Rodriguez praised the PET ruling, saying it was a “positive development” in the midst of unabashed moves to derail the proceedings by making it more cumbersome for the former Senator.
“This is certainly a very positive development for Senator Marcos. As you can see, our opponents are making things more difficult for us by trying to delay the case and making us pay left and right without any basis. We are glad that the PET denied these unfounded and unnecessary moves so our case can finally move forward,” Rodriguez said.
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