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Tolentino poll protest accepted

Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s dilemma is far from over as the Senate Electoral Tribunal has accepted the amended electoral protest of former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis N. Tolentino who ran for senator in the May 2016 elections.

Reminiscent of the case between Senate President Koko Pimentel and Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri in the May 2010 elections, De Lima and Tolentino are now locked in a struggle for the Senate’s 12th slot as the former independent senatorial candidate urged the SET to nullify the 1,332,972 vote lead of the neophyte lawmaker and declare him as the rightful and proper winning senatorial candidate in the automated elections.

The SET accepted the protest in a preliminary meeting Thursday attended by Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Cynthia A. Villar, and Antonio F Trillanes IV sitting as members of tribunal.

Other members of the tribunal are Justice Antonio Carpio as chairman, Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Justice Arturo Brion, and Sen. Richard J. Gordon.

Drilon said they have already been briefed on the petition filed by Tolentino and the response of De Lima, the timetable, and the process to be followed in the SET proceedings.

The senator said a preliminary conference would be held on October 6 “to summarize everything, including definition of the issues” as they target having a decision rendered before the end of the 17th Congress. (Hannah L. Torregoza)