Marcos electoral protest moves forward

Perseus Echeminada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The electoral protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo has moved forward after the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) issued an order to decrypt and print the ballot images in the three pilot provinces he is questioning.

Acting on the order of the PET, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) started to decrypt and print the ballot images and other data found in the Secured Digital (SD) cards in its main office in Intramuros, Manila on Monday.

The ballot images are from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman for Marcos, claimed the counsels of Robredo initially tried to postpone the scheduled decryption as they bought only two revisors.

Robredo’s lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo denied the Marcos camp’s claim that they filed a motion before the Comelec to delay the decryption.

Sardillo said they sent only two revisors because they were not informed as to how many revisors should be sent. “Even PET sent only two revisors.”

Sardillo said it was the camp of the dictator’s son and namesake that failed to comply with and submit the names of witnesses despite being directed to do so.

“We have always complied with all the orders of the PET and it is in the interest of the Vice President to resolve this case to further eliminate mind conditioning tactics Mr. Marcos is doing to the public,” Sardillo said.

The Comelec proceeded with the decryption of the ballot images, starting with Camarines Sur, Robredo’s home province.

Representatives from the PET and the Comelec Legal Department were also present during the decryption.

The decryption and printing of ballot images from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental will take at least seven months to finish.

Rodriguez said in the last year and a half, Robredo’s camp questioned Marcos’ motions to expedite the resolution of his electoral protest, including his move for technical examination and evaluation of the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List (EDCVL) of the three provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Rodriguez also said that after 18 months, the PET might have noticed the Robredo camp’s supposed ploy to “hold up the proceedings” because the tribunal recently ordered the exploratory teams to start locating the ballot boxes in the clustered precincts of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental so it could order the ballot boxes’ retrieval and transfer to Manila.

In a resolution dated Oct. 10, the PET ordered the members of the Exploratory/Retrieval Team to go to Camarines Sur either from Oct. 16 to 20 or from Oct. 23 to 27 to locate all the ballot boxes and map out the logistics needed for their retrieval and transportation to the Supreme Court where the revision/ recount of votes will take place.

Comelec stands  by poll results

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday stood by the results of the May 2016 polls.?“The Comelec has always stood by the results of its elections. We think that over the last three automated elections, we have already proven that. I do not see any reason why this should be any different,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

In an interview in Bulan, Sorsogon yesterday, Robredo said she hopes the resignation of Comelec chairman Andres Bautista would not affect the result of the electoral protest filed against her.

What she fears more, Robredo said, is the capability of the Marcoses to cheat just to get the vice presidency.

“Of course, what we always fear is because they (Marcoses) have a history in cheating, they can resort to dirty tactics just to get the position,” Robredo said.  –  With Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo

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