PRODUCTION AND CUSTODY OF BALLOT BOXES AND ELECTION DOCUMENTS
SECTION 1. Issuance of precautionary protection order. - Where the allegations in a protest so warrant, and simultaneously with the issuance of summons, the court shall order the municipal treasurer and election officer concerned to take immediate steps or measures to safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes, lists of voters with voting records, books of voters and other documents or paraphernalia used in the election.
SEC. 2. When ballot boxes and election documents are brought before the court. - Within forty-eight hours from receipt of the answer with counter-protest, if any, and whenever the allegations in a protest or counter-protest so warrant, the court shall order the ballot boxes with their keys, lists of voters with voting records, books of voters and other documents or paraphernalia involved in the protest or counter-protest, to be brought before it.
The court shall notify the parties of the date and time for the retrieval from their respective custodians of the ballot boxes and election documents. The parties may send representatives to witness the activity. The absence, however, of a representative of a party shall not be reason to postpone or delay the bringing of the ballot boxes and election documents into the custody of the court. The court, in its discretion, may seek the assistance of the Philippine National Police or the Armed Forces of the Philippines in ensuring the safe delivery of the ballot boxes and election paraphernalia into the custody of the court.
Where any of the ballot boxes, ballots, election returns, election documents or paraphernalia mentioned in the first paragraph above are also involved in election contests before other fora, such as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal or the Commission on Elections, which, under COMELEC Resolution No. 2812 dated 17 October 1995, have preferential right over the custody and revision of ballots involved in simultaneous protests, the court shall make the appropriate coordination and request with the higher tribunal involved as to temporary prior custody of ballot boxes and revision of ballots and other documents, or synchronization of such revision of ballots and other election documents.
The expenses necessary and incidental to the bringing of the ballot boxes and election documents shall be shouldered and promptly paid by the protestant. The expenses necessary and incidental to the return of the ballot boxes and election documents to their original custodians or the proper tribunal after the termination of the case shall be shared proportionately by the protestant and protestee based on the number of precincts respectively contested by them.