2Reference: Annual Audit Report on the Senate Electoral Tribunal

For the Calendar Year 31 December 2007

The Tribunal began the year 2007 with a change in the judicial component. Upon his appointment as Chief Justice of the Philippines, former Tribunal Chairman Hon. Justice Reynato S. Puno issued Special Order No. 441 on 13 December 2006 designating Senior Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing as Chairman and Associate Justices Angelina Sandoval – Gutierrez and Alicia Austria – Martinez as members of the Tribunal effective 02 January 2007.

Thus, at the beginning of year 2007, the Tribunal was composed of:

  1. Hon. Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing,  Chairman
  2. Hon. Justice Angelina Sandoval – Gutierrez , Member
  3. Hon. Justice Alicia Austria – Martinez, Member
  4. Hon. Senator Juan M. Flavier ,Member
  5. Hon. Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Jr., Member
  6. Hon. Senator Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr., Member
  7. Hon. Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon, Member
  8. Hon. Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Member
  9. Hon. Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., Member

Year 2007 being an election year, changes in the senatorial membership occurred as a consequence thereof. Three senator members ended their terms, namely: Senators Juan M. Flavier, Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr. and Luisa “Loi” Ejercito Estrada.

In the meantime that the senate contingent was being completed, Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. inhibited from the Tribunal proceedings once the election protest of his son, Aquilino L. Pimentel III, has been filed. On 13 August 2007, the Senate of the Philippines elected Senators Panfilo M. Lacson and Benigno S. Aquino as members of the Tribunal representing the minority and on 28 August 2007, Senators Eduardo J. Angara, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Compañera Pia S. Cayetano and Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero were elected to represent the majority.

At the end of year 2007, the Tribunal was composed of:

  1. Hon. Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Chairman
  2. Hon. Justice Angelina Sandoval – Gutierrez, Member
  3. Hon. Justice Alicia Austria – Martinez, Member
  4. Hon. Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Member
  5. Hon. Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Member
  6. Hon. Senator Compañera Pia S. Cayetano, Member
  7. Hon. Senator Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero, Member
  8. Hon. Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Member
  9. Hon. Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Member.

On 30 July 2007, Aquilino L. Pimentel III, who placed 13th in the senatorial elections, instituted an electoral protest before the Tribunal under SET Case No. 001-07 (Aquilino Pimentel III versus Juan Miguel F. Zubiri) against Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, the 12th proclaimed winner, questioning the election results in 44 municipalities n 7 provinces, consisting of a total of 2,658 precincts on the ground that the results canvassed by the National Board of Canvassers were manufactured, padded, fraudulent, altered, distorted and illegal vote totals were not reflective of the true results of voting and counting in the protested precincts.

On 02 August 2007, summons was served on the protestee, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who on 13 August 2007 filed an Answer [Ad Cautelam]. In his counter protest, Senator Zubiri assailed the results of the elections in 17 provinces, or a total of 73,265 single and clustered precincts, including those protested by Pimentel.

Protestee Zubiri also filed a motion to dismiss and/or to suspend proceedings, which the Tribunal subsequently denied. The same fate met Protestee Zubiri’s motion for reconsideration.

Upon motion of the parties, the Tribunal ordered the collection of the ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia from the protested areas of Pimentel, which are also being counter-protested by Zubiri. Various pre-collection activities were undertaken by the Canvass Board Service to ensure the success of the collection activity which included the coordination with the Comelec and other government offices in Mindanao, requests for PNP escorts, and the training and orientation of the collection teams.

The collection activity was undertaken by eight teams who successfully collected 2,528 ballot boxes out of the 2.658 scheduled to be collected, leaving 130 ballot boxes uncollected.

The estimated cost of collection was P2,270,990.00, however, the actual cost was only P1,331,597.31, or a savings of P939,392.69.

Meanwhile, the preliminary conference that undertook the agreements and stipulations of the parties, and in addition controlled the subsequent course of the proceedings of the case was held on 15 November 2007.

Per Work Plan for CY 2007, the Tribunal should have ruled on the prima facie merit of the protest based on the results of revision in the pilot precincts by end of CY 2007 premised on a collection schedule beginning 30 July 2007. However, what actually transpired was that the election protest was not filed until 30 July 2007 due to the delay in the proclamation of the last winning slot by the Comelec, thus only the first phase or 16.66% of the target was achieved.