WILL lightning strike twice for the Pimentels in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET)?

The Supreme Court‘s 7-7 resolution in Aquilino Pimentel III vs. Commission on Elections, where Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sought, but failed, to suspend the proclamation of Juan Miguel Zubiri as the 12th winning senator during the last elections, left the Genuine Opposition candidate with no other option but to do what his father, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., did — file an electoral protest before the SET. (Read Pimentel’s petition for Certiorari and Mandamus.)

Koko and Nene Pimentel [courtesy of pimentel2007.org]During the oral argument, Associate Justice Cancio Garcia rebuked Pimentel’s lawyer Leila de Lima for using the Supreme Court as a forum for what he called was a violation under the law. “It is quite ironic that the Court is being used as a ventilation of a pre-proclamation protest. We are being used as a forum for this violation,” Garcia said.

De Lima, however, pointed out that Republic Act 9369, which amended RA 7166, had a provision on pre-proclamation procedures which are available to a protestant if the certificates of canvass are manufactured.

Pimentel claims that the Maguindanao canvass, which paved the way for Zubiri to clinch the 12th spot, was manufactured. (See the PCIJ series Why you should doubt the Maguindanao election results 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

But Garcia’s advice to Pimentel then was: “Why not file a protest before the Senate Electoral Tribunal?”

The SET is the body mandated by the 1987 Constitution to be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of senators. It is composed of nine members: three SC justices and six senators chosen on the basis of proportional representation from political parties.

Currently, the three magistrates are Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, who sits as the tribunal’s chair, and Justices Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez and Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez as members.

The Upper House has not yet determined who among its members will sit in the electoral tribunal. But Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Manuel Lapid, and Rodolfo Biazon are currently sitting in a holdover capacity. The three senators were joined by ex-senators Juan Flavier, Luisa Ejercito, and Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

There have been 11 electoral protests filed with the SET since 1987. None of them prospered, all were dismissed for various reasons. (see table)

PROTEST CASES FILED WITH THE SENATE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL

SENATORIAL ELECTIONS

SET CASE

STATUS

REASON

1987

001-87
Augusto Sanchez vs. Juan Ponce Enrile and/or Santanina Rasul

Dismissed

Failure of the protestant to make a sufficient showing of his readiness to shoulder and defray the expenses for collection of the ballot boxes from the pilot precincts

002-87
Firdausi Abbas, et al vs. Heherson Alvarez, et al

Dismissed

Failure of the protestants to identify their pilot precincts

1992

001-92
John Henry Osmeña vs Freddie Webb

Dismissed

Osmeña filed a motion to withdraw

002-92
Santanina Rasul vs Freddie Webb and Blas Ople

Dismissed

Insufficiency of form and substance

003-92
Alfredo Bengzon vs.Wigberto Tañada

Dismissed

Bengzon filed a motion to withdraw on the ground that the rules governing the protest allowed “interminable delays and open-ended imposition of fees and deposits”

undocketed for being a mere motion of extension to file protest
Gloria Macapagal vs. Freddie Webb

Dismissed

Motion was withdrawn

1995

001-95
Aquilino Pimentel vs. Gregorio Honasan, et al

Dismissed

Tribunal considered protestant Pimentel to have abandoned his protest when he filed his candidacy, actively campaigned for, and won and eventually assumed the office of a senator in the 11th Congress

1998

001-98
Roberto Pagdanganan vs. Teresa Aquino-Oreta

Dismissed

Pagdanganan filed a motion to withdraw because the Commission on Elections needed the ballot boxes involved in his protest for the 2001 Elections

002-98
Edcel Lagman vs. Teofisto Guingona Jr.

Dismissed

Lagman filed a motion to withdraw because the Commission on Elections needed the ballot boxes involved in his protest for the 2001 Elections

2001

001-01
Juan Ponce Enrile vs. Ralph Recto, et al

Dismissed

Enrile filed a motion to withdraw the protest after considering the amount of money to be incurred in the collection, revision and return of the ballots which per estimates of the Tribunal amounted to P9,371,190.00 for his pilot precincts alone

2004

001-04
John Henry Osmeña vs Rodolfo Biazon

Closed and terminated

Osmeña filed a “Withdrawal of Protest”

Source: Senate Electoral Tribunal

Of the 11 cases, seven were dismissed because the main protestant had filed a motion to withdraw the protest. In a 1992 SET case, Alfredo Bengzon cited “interminable delays” caused by the Tribunal’s own rules as the reason for his withdrawal.

In 1998, both the protests of Roberto Pagdanganan and Edcel Lagman were separately withdrawn because the cases have dragged on for three years and the Commission on Elections needed the ballot boxes, which were the subject matter of the protest, for the 2001 elections.

Cost has also been a factor for the withdrawal. In 2001, Juan Ponce Enrile, who had filed a protest against then 12th and 13th placer Ralph Recto and Gregorio Honasan, respectively, decided to withdraw after estimates of the cost showed that he would have to shell out P9,371,190.00 for his pilot precincts alone. Furthermore, he was not given an assurance that the protest would be finished in time to allow him to serve the remainder of the term in case he wins the case.

History is against Pimentel III as he pursues his case before the SET. Ironically, his father, Pimentel Jr., was the one who coined the phrase “dagdag-bawas” when he filed his 1995 electoral protest against Honasan, Marcelo Fernan, Enrile and Anna Dominique Coseteng as principal protestees, and Ramon Mitra and Biazon as necessary protestees.

Dagdag-bawas is a collective term used to describe the four types of electoral fraud alleged in Aquilino Pimentel vs. Gregorio Honasan, et al. The older Pimentel placed 15th in the Comelec’s 1995 senatorial tally. He claimed that he had been a victim of ballot padding and shaving committed in various ways.

The Tribunal confirmed the existence of dagdag-bawas in the pilot areas of Pimentel, in the first, and so far only, full-blown electoral protest conducted by the Tribunal. In a resolution issued June 23, 1998, the Tribunal detailed the four types of dagdag-bawas committed against protestant Pimentel:

One, alteration of precinct totals during the municipal or city canvassing where the digit 1 was placed at the left side of the precinct vote totals as the figures were being transferred from the election returns (ERs) to the statement of votes (SOVs).

Two, writing a figure higher than the real total number of votes in the SOVs by precinct. These padded votes were the ones transferred to the municipal or city certificates of canvass.

Three, votes indicated in the municipal certificates of canvass were disregarded and higher manufactured figures for favored candidates were transferred to the SOVs.

Four, batches of ballots were prepared by one person only.

Despite these findings, Pimentel’s case was dismissed. The Tribunal considered protestant Pimentel to have abandoned his protest when he filed his candidacy and eventually assumed the office of a senator in the next succeeding election.

According to Irene Guevarra, SET secretary, a single senatorial protest is equivalent to 40 to 50 congressional or local electoral protests because it involves 70 to 90 percent of the electoral precincts nationwide.

2 Responses to Will Koko suffer his father’s fate?

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jr_lad

August 1st, 2007 at 1:58 am

in other words coco doesn’t have a chance and should rethink filing a protest before the SET. maybe it’s better for him to wait for the next election. at least there will be no issue of delicadeza anymore since his father’s term is finished by that time.

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In Asia » Blog Archive » Looking Back as May 2010 Philippine General Elections Approach

April 29th, 2010 at 9:32 am

[...] The narrow margin of Fidel V. Ramos over Miriam Defensor Santiago in the 1992 presidential election has led some to question that result. But doubts about the elections really began to grow in the Senatorial elections of 1995, when the practice of dagdag-bawas (add-subtract) began. During the aggregation of votes from voting precincts to the municipal or city level, votes were literally added to one candidate and subtracted from another. The alleged victim in 1995, Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., was making progress in the Senate Electoral Tribunal when his protest over this process was considered abandoned by virtue of the fact that he had filed his candidacy and won a Senate seat in the subsequent 1998 election. [...]

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