'OUTING' PROBE. Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of former Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., presents a copy of their petition asking the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to probe the recent swimming party of some PET staff which was joined by a revisor of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Supreme Court in Manila on Monday (July 9, 2018). (PNA photo by Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA -- The camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr. on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to probe the recent swimming party of some PET staff which was joined by a revisor of Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a 12-page manifestation of grave concern with extremely urgent motion to investigate, Marcos' spokesperson lawyer Vic Rodriguez informed the PET about their discovery of the outing of at least 24 revisors and officers of the PET with the revisor of Robredo at a resort in Barangay Pansol, Calamba, Laguna.

Of the 24, at least 10 were allegedly Head Revisors whom the PET hired to take charge of determining the number of votes earned by either party in the ongoing recount. The others, he said, were the chief tabulator, alternate head revisor, appraiser and at least six ballot box custodians and their chief.

"Protestant Marcos received information that on Friday, 22 June 2018, there was an “outing” at “3J’s Resort” located at Lot 11, Barangay Pansol, Calamba City, Laguna which was attended by a party revisor for the protestee, Maria Leonor “Leni Daang Matuwid” G. Robredo (“Robredo”), together with 24 Head Revisors, Alternate Head Revisor, Appraiser, Ballot Box Custodians/Handlers and Chief Tabulator of this Honorable Tribunal,” read the urgent motion.

Marcos said they learned about the outing through the Facebook account of PET Head Revisor Maria Katrina (Che-Che) Rosales when she posted the photos of the “Pansol outing" on Sunday, June 24, 2018.

Among the photos posted were the 24 PET personnel together with Osmundo “Ritchie” Abuyuan -- who is one of the revisors of Robredo in the ongoing election protest of Marcos.

Marcos also claimed that on July 2, Rosales, in an apparent attempt to “to rectify her mistake of publicly posting the incriminating photos of their ‘Pansol outing’,” deleted the photos from her Facebook account.

“Fraternizing with the party revisor for the protestee is obviously prohibited by this Honorable Tribunal since this act is proscribed not only by the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel but also by the Canon of Judicial Ethics,” Marcos said in his petition.

He further stated that the “Pansol outing” would imply that Robredo’s camp had already “infiltrated and curried favor with these PET personnel in order to manipulate, influence and control the revision proceedings and maneuver the results in her favor.”

“Protestant Marcos cannot help but wonder if the ongoing judicial recount and revision proceedings have been compromised given that the same is presided by the very same PET personnel who appear to be in cahoots with the protestee’s camp.”

He also pointed out that the role of the Head Revisors is crucial in the ongoing revision of votes because they are the ones who preside over their respective revision committees and control the conduct of the judicial recounting of ballots.

“In fact, these Head Revisors and the Alternate Head Revisors are in charge of initially determining whether the ballots found inside the ballots are valid, rejected or stray. They are likewise mandated to determine if the protested ballots comply with the 50 percent shading threshold as originally decided by the PET,” he explained.

The former senator said the actions of the PET personnel constitute improper and unethical behavior, which immeasurably affects not only the integrity of the ongoing election protest but, more importantly, the honor and dignity of the Judiciary as an institution.

This calls for investigation and the imposition of the "appropriate sanctions" on the PET personnel, Robredo, and Abuyuan, the Marcos filing said.

Marcos' plea for a PET probe was the latest filed before the court hearing his challenge to Robredo's allegedly fraudulent victory in the 2016 polls.

Nothing wrong with outing

The camp of Robredo, meanwhile, said there is nothing wrong with the matter because all revisors from both parties were invited to the event.

"In fact, we are wondering why they are even asking for an investigation when they sent food to the said event," Robredo's counsel Romulo Macalintal said in a statement.

Macalintal also stressed the PET head revisors should be lauded for organizing the event despite tensions between the two parties during the revision proceedings.

"The PET should not be disturbed of its more important functions than be bothered by this trivial incident," he added.

On June 26, PET in Case no. 0005 Marcos vs. Robredo fined both camps and counsels PHP50,000 each for violation of sub judice rule.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year. In his protest, Marcos contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clusters, covering 27 provinces and cities.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos' 14,155,344 votes. (With reports from Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA)