MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 1:07 p.m.) After several delays, the preliminary conference on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the counter-protest of Vice President Leni Robredo will finally push through at the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Tuesday afternoon.
Robredo and Marcos, who both have submitted their preliminary conference briefs, are likely to meet each other at the conference.
Marcos has named three provinces where he was allegedly cheated — Camarines Sur, from where Robredo hails, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo, for her part, named Sulu, Capiz and Cotabato province.
These provinces will serve as pilot areas for a manual recount and judicial revision.
Marcos’ camp earlier said the fate of the electoral protests would depend on whether indications of fraud are found during the recount.
The three provinces Marcos chose are where he said Robredo purportedly took 1.5 million votes to his less than 200,000.
On the other hand, the provinces named by Robredo re where she either experienced zero votes or where vote buying was allegedly rampant.
Both camps have also indicated they are presenting hundreds of witnesses — Marcos’ 362 and Robredo’s 738 — including “hostile witnesses” such as officials of Smartmatic and the Commission on Elections.
The preliminary conference is expected to discuss issues that may impede the speedy resolution of the protests, including limiting the number of witnesses to be presented as well as the conduct of the recount and the retrieval of election documents and other materials.
Earlier the PET appointed a three-member panel of hearing commissioners. Marcos has asked that two more members be named to the panel.
In a related development, Marcos also showed copies of a receipt showing he has paid the P30-million second installment of the protest fee required by the PET. The receipt was dated July 10, Monday.
He earlier made an initial payment of P36 million.
Friday, July 14, is the date set by the PET for both Marcos and Robredo to pay their respective protest fees.
Robredo has paid an initial P8 million of the P15.7 million required of her.