Republic of the Philippines

Cases Filed Before the Senate Electoral Tribunal

1. SET Case No. 001-87 (AUGUSTO S. SANCHEZ, Petitioner, versus JUAN PONCE ENRILE or SANTANINA T. RASUL, Alternative Respondents)

 

Election Protest: Originally filed by Petitioner Sanchez before the Senate of the Philippines on 21 August 1987, the Election Protest was later forwarded to the Tribunal on 03 September 1987.

Being in the 25th slot in the list of senators obtaining the highest number of votes, Petitioner questioned the results of the 11 May 1987 elections, in so far as the last or the 24th slot was concerned. He impleaded as alternative respondents, Juan Ponce Enrile and Santanina T. Rasul, both of whom the official count of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had credited with enough votes to make the last two places in the winners’ list, although in what order was not yet certain.

Petitioner impugned as incorrect the official COMELEC tally showing him short by some 70,000 votes of winning a Senate seat. He asserted that the 45,155 votes of disqualified candidate Gil M. Sanchez should be credited to him, together with the countless of Sanchez votes which were invalidated or considered as stray and the thousands more which were misappreciated in favor of Gil M. Sanchez due to the negligence of the COMELEC when it distributed to more than 101,000 precincts throughout the country at least five (5) official election forms listing Gil Sanchez as a bona fide candidate for senator.

Initial actual collection of ballot boxes was made on 19-20 July 1989. On 08 September 1989, a letter was sent to Petitioner, requiring him to augment his cash deposit so that the collection of ballot boxes could proceed. When no action was forthcoming from Petitioner, another letter of the same tenor was sent to him on 18 October 1989, but the same fell on deaf ears. A third letter dated 17 January 1990 also failed to elicit any response from Petitioner. On 16 March 1990, the Tribunal issued a resolution suspending the proceedings pending Petitioner’s showing his readiness to shoulder and defray the expenses. Still, Petitioner maintained his silence.

Status: The case was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 16 August 1991, due to Petitioner’s lack of readiness to shoulder the expenses for the collection and revision of ballots, resulting in his failure to prosecute the protest.

 

2. SET Case No. 002-87 (FIRDAUSI ISMAIL ABBAS, HOMOBONO A. ADAZA, ALEJANDRO D. ALMENDRAS, ABUL KAHYR D. ALONTO, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, RENE G. ESPINA, JOSEPH MARCELO E. ESTRADA, WILSON P. GAMBOA, ROILO S. GOLEZ, ROMEO G. JALOSJOS, EVA R. ESTRADA-KALAW, WENCESLAO R. LAGUMBAY, VICENTE P. MAGSAYSAY, JEREMIAS U. MONTEMAYOR, BLAS F. OPLE, RAFAEL P. PALMARES, ZOSIMO JESUS M. PAREDES, JR., VICENTE G. PUYAT, EDITH N. RABAT, ISIDRO S. RODRIGUEZ, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, LORENZO G. TEVES, ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, and FERNANDO S. VELOSO, Petitioners, versus HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, EDGARDO J. ANGARA, AGAPITO A. AQUINO, NEPTALI A. GONZALES, TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR., ERNESTO F. HERRERA, SOTERO H. LAUREL, JOSE D. LINA, JR., ERNESTO M. MACEDA, RAUL S. MANGLAPUS, ORLANDO S. MERCADO, JOHN H. OSMEŇA, VICENTE PATERNO, AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., SANTANINA T. RASUL, ALBERTO C. ROMULO, RENE AUGUSTO V. SAGUISAG, JOVITO R. SALONGA, LETICIA R. SHAHANI, MAMINTAL J. TAMANO, WIGBERTO E. TAŇADA, and VICTOR SAN ANDRES ZIGA, Respondents)

 

Election Protest: The election protest was filed on 09 October 1987 to contest the results of the 11 May 1987 Senatorial elections. Petitioners were the official candidates of the Opposition Coalition known as Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD), while the Respondents were the official candidates of the Administration Coalition known as Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN). Except for Petitioner Estrada (Ranked #14) and Petitioner Enrile (Ranked #24), the rest of the Petitioners lost in the election. Although Estrada and Enrile were proclaimed winners, they joined the protest because they believed that were it not for the alleged massive electoral frauds and irregularities that attended the election, they would have garnered substantially more votes that were actually credited to them by the COMELEC.

As required by the Rules of the Tribunal, the Petitioners submitted a partial list of their pilot precincts on 19 January 1990. This was, however, followed by five (5) successive motions from Petitioners, requesting extensions of time to revise and bring up to date their partial list of pilot precincts for purposes of the initial revision of ballots.

Acting on the fifth motion, the Tribunal observed: “to grant the last extension applied for (180 days from July 13, 1991) would mean putting off initial revision until January 13, 1992 – and very probably, much later, if the time would take to have the ballot boxes and election materials from the pilot precincts identified in the revised list collected and transported to the Tribunal is taken into account. Given the fact that this contest on its merits faces problems of time constraints of the same insuperable character as those that had contemporaneously set in, albeit from a different cause, in SET Case No. 001-87 (Sanchez vs. Enrile/Rasul) and had seriously jeopardized the possibility of completing initial revision proceedings therein before said date, even if these could have been immediately started.” The Tribunal concluded: “Submission of such list, even if done immediately or well before the expiry of the extension sought, would no longer serve any useful purpose.”

Status: The fifith motion for extension of time to submit a revised list of pilot precincts was denied and the case was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 16 August 1991, it no longer being possible to proceed and resolve the case on the merits before the lapse of the prescribed terms of the contested offices, thereby rendering any such resolution merely moot and academic.

 

3. SET Case No. 001-92 (JOHN H. OSMEŇA, Protestant, versus FREDDIE N. WEBB, Protestee)

 

Election Protest: In the proclamation of the twenty-four (24) winning candidates in the 11 May 1992 senatorial elections formally made by the COMELEC on 09 June 1992, John H. Osmeña was ranked 23rd, while Freddie N. Webb was ranked 12th.

On 23 June 1992, Osmeña filed a protest with the Tribunal, naming as Protestee, Freddie N. Webb, in an effort to improve his ranking to at least number 12, instead of 23rd, to serve a full term of six (6) years instead of only three (3) years. He pointed out that there was another Osmeña, his cousin Esteban (“Steve”) Osmeña, who ran for the position of senator. Considering that there were two Osmeñas in the senatorial race, Protestant Osmeña alleged that more than 1.8 million valid votes for him were not duly credited in his favor but were instead declared as stray.

Status: The election protest was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 03 June 1993, upon the filing by Protestant Osmeña of a “Motion to Withdraw Election Protest” on 30 March 1993.

4. SET Case No. 002-92 (SANTANINA T. RASUL, Protestant, versus FREDDIE N. WEBB and BLAS F. OPLE, Protestees)

Election Protest: The election protest was filed on 24 June 1992 without a named protestee.

The Protestant, Santanina T. Rasul, ranked 15th among the twenty-four senators proclaimed as winners by the COMELEC in the 11 May 1992 senatorial race. She claimed that errors in the count deprived her of some 500,000 to 2,500,000 votes which could have been sufficient to place her among the first twelve winners entitled to serve for a term of six years.

On 23 July 1992, the Tribunal issued a Resolution, amending the protest by naming Freddie N. Webb and Blas F. Ople, who respectively ranked 12th and 11th in the senatorial elections, as protestees.

Status: The case was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 15 September 1993 for insufficiency in form and substance.

 

5. UNDOCKETED (GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, Contestant, versus FREDDIE N. WEBB, Respondent)

 

Election Protest: On 24 June 1992, following the conclusion of the 11 May 1992 elections, Bernardino R. Abes, counsel for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed a
“Motion for Extension of Time to File Election Contest”, alleging that: (a) The Contestant has taken the necessary steps for filing an election contest pursuant to the Rules of the Tribunal currently in effect; and (b) That owing to the delay in the Contestant’s arrival from abroad for reasons beyond her control, counsel needs an extention of time for filing an election contest.

The motion was granted by the Tribunal in its Resolution promulgated on 25 June 1992.

Status: The case was withdrawn per Manifestation filed by counsel for Macapagal-Arroyo dated 01 July 1992, stating that his client reconsidered her earlier decision and was not therefore filing an election contest against Freddie N. Webb.

 

6. SET Case No. 003-92 (DR. ALFREDO R. A. BENGZON, Protestant, versus WIGBERTO G. TAŇADA, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, JOHN H. OSMEŇA and AGAPITO “BUTZ” AQUINO, Protestees)

 

Election Protest: The election protest was filed on 24 June 1992 to contest the results of the 11 May 1992 senatorial elections.

Protestant Dr. Alfredo R. A. Bengzon ranked 25th in the official COMELEC Canvass Report, while Protestees Tañada, Tatad, Osmeña and Aquino ranked 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th, respectively. Protestant alleged that the Certificate of Canvass (COCs) and their supporting Statements of Votes (SOVs) contained material alterations and erasures which were not duly signed/initialed by the respective Boards of Canvassers. He further claimed that the said COCs and SOVs did not reflect the true and actual votes cast for senators.

Subsequently, however, the Protestant filed a “Motion to Withdraw” dated 27 October 1992.

Status: The case was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 03 December 1992, upon the Protestant’s “Motion to Withdraw” dated 27 October 1992.

 

7. SET Case No. 001-95 (AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., Protestant, versus GREGORIO HONASAN, MARCELO B. FERNAN, JUAN PONCE ENRILE and ANNA DOMINIQUE COSETENG, Principal Protestees; and RAMON MITRA and RODOLFO BIAZON, Necessary Protestees)

 

Election Protest: The Election Protest was filed on 20 June 1995 to contest the results of the 08 May 1995 senatorial elections.

Ranking 15th in the senatorial race, Protestant Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. named as Principal Protestees Gregorio Honasan, Marcelo B. Fernan, Juan Ponce Enrile and Anna Dominique Coseteng, who ranked 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively; and as Necessary Protestees Ramon Mitra and Rodolfo G. Biazon, who ranked 13th and 14th, respectively.

Protestant Pimentel alleged that the counting of the senatorial electoral results was attended by massive cheating on a nationwide scale under the scheme commonly known as “Operation Dagdag-Bawas”.

After revision and appreciation of the contested ballots, the Tribunal issued on 23 June 1998 Resolution No. 98-04 setting forth the final results of the proceedings in the pilot precincts of Protestant Pimentel. The Tribunal found that “Operation Dagdag-Bawas” attended the 08 May 1995 elections, which affected the ranking of the parties.

On 24 September 1998, the Tribunal issued Resolution No. 98-18, declaring that the protest should proceed against the Protestees. However, on 15 October 1998, Protestant Pimentel filed a Manifestation, stating that he was no longer interested in seeking the collection of additional ballot boxes for the purpose of further revision proceedings and that he was formally resting his case.

Status: The case was dismissed in the Tribunal Resolution promulgated on 28 July 1999, the protest having become moot and academic by Protestant Pimentel’s election and assumption of office as Senator in the 11th Congress of the Philippines.

 

8. SET Case No. 001-98 (ROBERTO M. PAGDANGANAN, Protestant, versus TERESA AQUINO-ORETA, Protestee)

 

Election Protest: The Election Protest was filed on 15 June 1998 by Protestant Roberto M. Pagdanganan, who placed 13th in the 11 May 1998 senatorial elections against Teresa Aquino-Oreta, who ranked 12th.

Protestant Pagdanganan claimed that the authentic will of the people as to who should sit as senator of the Republic for a term of six years beginning 20 June 1998 was negated by a demonic operation called “Operation Dagdag-Lipat Bawas” (Operation Plus-Transfer Minus).

Initial revision of the ballots pertaining to the pilot areas of Protestant Pagdanganan ensued. Acceding, however, to the urgent request of the COMELEC through its Chairperson, for Protestant Pagdanganan to withdraw his protest so that the ballot boxes could be used in the then forthcoming elections, Protestant Pagdanganan filed an “Urgent Motion to Withdraw Protest.”

Status: The case was dismissed in Tribunal Resolution No. 01-12 promulgated on 02 May 2001, upon Protestant Pagdanganan’s “Urgent Motion to Withdraw Protest.”

 

9. SET Case No. 002-98 (EDCEL C. LAGMAN, Protestant, versus TEOFISTO GUINGONA, JR. and TERESA AQUINO-ORETA, Protestees; and ROBERTO PAGDANGANAN and RUBEN TORRES, Necessary Protestees)

 

Election Protest: The Election Protest was filed on 15 June 1998 to contest the results of the 11 May 1998 senatorial elections. Named as Principal Protestees by Protestant Edcel C. Lagman, who ranked 15th, were Teofisto Guingona, Jr., who ranked 11th, and Teresa Aquino-Oreta, who ranked 12th. Designated as Necessary Protestees were Roberto M. Pagdanganan and Ruben Torres, who ranked 13th and 14th, respectively.

Protestant Lagman alleged that the Certificates of Canvass (COCs) were based on figures and returns which were falsified, altered and/or substituted in favor of the Protestees and against the Protestant; thus depriving the latter of a well-deserved victory. He further claimed that massive operation of “Dagdag-Bawas” and “Palit Forma” (Substitution of Election Forms), i.e. election returns and COCs, resulted in the installation of some senators by “special operators,” not by genuine election.

Initial revision of the ballots from Protestant Lagman’s pilot areas was conducted. However, upon the urgent request of the COMELEC through its Chairperson that Protestant Lagman withdraw his protest so that the ballot boxes could be used in the then forthcoming elections, Protestant Lagman filed an “Urgent Motion to Withdraw Protest” on 20 April 2001.

Status: The case was dismissed in Tribunal Resolution No. 01-11, promulgated on 02 May 2001, upon Protestant Lagman’s filing an “Urgent Motion to Withdraw Protest” on 30 April 2001.

 

10. SET Case No. 001-01 (JUAN PONCE ENRILE, Protestant, versus RALPH RECTO, Protestee; and GREGORIO B. HONASAN, Necessary Protestee)

 

Election Protest: The Election Protest was filed on 20 June 2001 by Protestant Juan Ponce Enrile, who placed 14th in the 14 May 2001 senatorial elections, against Ralph Recto, who placed 12th, as Protestee, and Gregorio B. Honasan, who placed 13th, as Necessary Protestee.

Protestant Enrile alleged that the expression of the people’s genuine mandate was despoiled by the intensive and systematic tampering and/or fraudulent alteration of election documents for the benefit of Protestee Recto and to the prejudice of Protestant. He futher claimed that had the election results not been altered, he would have been among the top twelve senatorial candidates and consequently, should have been proclaimed as duly elected senator.

During the preliminary conference held on 07 March 2002, counsel for Protestant Enrile manifested that his client was seriously considering the withdrawal of the protest. On 14 March 2002, Protestant Enrile, through counsel, filed a Motion for Leave to Withdraw Protest, stating as reasons the estimated expenses as well as the time and effort that would be spent in the revision and recount of ballots, and more importantly, that the protest might not be finished in time for him to be able to enjoy his term should he win the protest.

Status: The case was dismissed in Tribunal Resolution No. 02-14 promulgated on 10 April 2002, upon Protestant Enrile’s filing a “Motion for Leave to Withdraw Protest” dated 14 March 2002.

 

11. SET Case No. 001-04 (JOHN HENRY R. OSMEŇA, Protestant, versus RODOLFO G. BIAZON, Protestee; ROBERT Z. BARBERS and ERNESTO M. MACEDA, Necessary Protestees)

 

Election Protest: This Election Protest was filed on 17 June 2004 by Protestant John Henry R. Osmeña, who ranked 15th in the 10 May 2004 senatorial elections against Rodolfo Biazon, who ranked 12th, as Principal Protestee and Robert Barbers and Ernesto M. Maceda, who ranked 13th and 14th, respectively, as Necessary Protestees.

Protestant Osmeña claimed that despite warnings, precautions and other preventive measures, the 10 May 2004 national election was marred by widespread fraud, cheating and irregularities that suppressed the true and genuine will of the electorate.

After the initial revision of ballots, Protestant Osmeña withdrew his protest on the alleged ground that the protest would lead to nowhere as his main evidence had already been tampered with and/or destroyed. According to Protestant Osmeña, the initial phase of the recount of ballots from the pilot precincts showed a pattern indicating that the “real ballots” were no longer the ones inside the ballot boxes as these had been substituted with fake ballots which had been fixed to conform to the official tally.

Status: The case was dismissed in Tribunal Resolution No. 06-03, promulgated on 18 May 2006, upon the filing by Protestant Osmeña of a “Withdrawal of Protest” on 03 April 2006.

 

12. SET Case No. 001-07 (AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III, Protestant-Counter Protestee, versus JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI, Protestee-Counter Protestant)

 

Election Protest: In this Election Protest filed on 30 July 2007 against proclaimed senator-elect Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Protestant Aquilino L. Pimentel III questioned the 14 May 2007 senatorial election results from a total of 2,658 electoral precincts located in the Mindanao region, to wit: Maguindanao (1,078 precincts), Lanao del Norte (496 precincts), Shariff Kabunsuan (291 precincts), Basilan (134 precincts), Sultan Kudarat (282 precincts), Lanao del Sur (161 precincts) and Sulu (216 precincts). In contrast, Protestee Zubiri assailed in his Counter-Protest the results in 73,265 precincts, including the 2,658 precincts subject of Pimentel’s protest.

After the revision and appreciation of the ballots and election documents from the contested areas of Protestant Pimentel III, the parties’ vote totals showed Pimentel III leading Zubiri by 258,166 votes.

Proceedings on the Counter Protest of Zubiri ensued. After completion of the revision and appreciation proceedings on his pilot areas, the Tribunal issued on 04 June 2010, Resolution No. 07-105, finding a prima facie valid cause to pursue further proceedings on the remaining protested precincts in the Counter Protest.

However, on 04 August 2011, while the proceedings on the remaining protested precincts in the Counter Protest was on-going, the Tribunal Secretariat received a letter from the Senate of the Philippines dated 03 August 2011, informing the Tribunal that Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri had resigned as Senator of the Philippines. On the same date, counsel for Zubiri filed a Manifestation and Motion, praying that the resignation of Zubiri be considered as voluntary withdrawal and/or abandonment of his Counter Protest.

Status: In its decision promulgated on 11 August 2011, the Tribunal declared Aquilino L. Pimentel III as the 12th duly elected Senator of the Philippines during the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections. Resolution No. NBC 07-67 of the Commission on Elections En Banc, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, dated 14 July 2007, was annulled and set aside.

 

13. SET Case No. 001-15 (RIZALITO Y. DAVID, Petitioner, versus MARY GRACE POE-LLAMANZARES, Respondent.)

 

Quo Warranto: In this Petition for Quo Warranto filed on 06 August 2015, Petitioner Rizalito Y. David questioned the qualifications of sitting Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares on two grounds, namely: that being a foundling whose parents are unknown, she is not a natural born Filipino citizen; and that she lacks the residency requirement provided by law.

After the issues had been joined, the Tribunal called the parties and their respective counsel to a Preliminary Conference on 11 September 2015. During the Preliminary Conference, Petitioner David agreed to drop the issue of residency on the ground of prescription.

Thereafter, on 21 September 2015, the Tribunal heard the parties in Oral Argument.

Status: On 17 November 2015, the Tribunal promulgated its Decision, dismissing the petition for quo warranto. The Tribunal ruled that Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a natural-born citizen under the 1935 Constitution and continue to be a natural-born citizen as defined under the 1987 Constitution. The Tribunal further ruled that she validly reacquired her natural-born citizen under R.A. 9225 and validly renounced her American citizenship.

The decision of the Tribunal was upheld by the Supreme Court in its decision rendered on 20 September 2016 in G.R. No. 221538 (David vs. SET and Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares).

 

14. SET Case No. 001-16 (FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO, Protestant, versus LEILA M. DE LIMA, Protestee)

 

Election Protest: This election protest was filed on 20 June 2016 by Protestant Francis N. Tolentino to assail the proclamation of Protestee Leila de Lima as the 12th winning senatorial candidate in the 09 May 2016 National and Local Elections. Protestant Tolentino alleged that massive fraud and irregularities attended the elections, consisting of: a) Tampering of the Automated Election System (AES); b) Pre-Shading of Ballots; c) Impossible 100% Voter Turnout; d) Votes for Tolentino Not Counted; and e) Pre-lodading of Secure Digital (SD) Cards with Negative Votes.

Preliminary Conference was held on 26 January 2017.

Status: For issuance of the Preliminary Conference Order after submission of the Protestant of his list of additional witnesses and reconciliation of his list of pilot precincts with the list of precincts of the Canvass Board Service.