VP vote recount to begin April â PET

A Supreme Court officer walks past ballot boxes and desks during an inspection of the venue for the recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race. The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, will conduct a manual recount at the CA gymnasium starting April 12.           Edd Gumban

VP vote recount to begin April — PET
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — All is set for the recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race next week.

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will proceed with the revision of ballots or manual recount of votes on April 2.

The recount is meant to resolve the election protest filed against Vice President Leni Robredo by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Robredo described as a relief the start of the manual recount for the electoral protest. 

“It’s a relief for us. We’ve been waiting for the recount to begin because we feel that delaying it only allows them to use the issue to muddle the truth,” Robredo said, referring to her opponent.

This will be the first recount of votes to be conducted by the PET under the 1987 Constitution.

Previous poll protests involving former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. for the 2004 presidential race; former vice president Noli de Castro and Sen. Loren Legarda and former vice president Jejomar Binay and former senator Mar Roxas in 2010 did not reach the level of vote recount.

The recount – to be conducted at the gymnasium of the SC-Court of Appeals building – will cover 5,418 clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

The PET yesterday opened the tribunal for an ocular inspection by members of the media, who will not be allowed to cover the recount. 

The recount will be conducted Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by 50 revision teams each composed of three members – a chief from the PET and one representative each from the camps of Marcos and Robredo.

Under PET rules, the revision of votes involves verifying physical count of ballots, recount of votes of parties, recording of objections and claims and marking of contested ballots.

The tribunal created an ad hoc committee composed of lawyers Jose Lemuel Arenas, Edgar Aricheta and Ma. Carina Cunanan, who would supervise the proceedings. 

Arenas told journalists that the PET is keeping about 1,400 ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, which would be the first to be counted.

He said the other ballot boxes are with the Commission on Elections.

Arenas said once the recount on the first 1,400 ballot boxes is done, the PET would receive the other ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Cunanan said the tribunal is expecting 213 personnel daily for the duration of the recount.

These include 60 employees of the tribunal, psychometricians, lawyers and representatives of both parties, and the revisors.

Members of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Police Security Protection Group and PET guards will secure the venue 24 hours a day.

Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed at the venue and storage areas.

Cunanan said parties would not be allowed to bring in their security personnel.

The ballot recount covers three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, which were chosen by Marcos as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities he cited in his protest.

Earlier, both camps agreed to withdraw all the motions they filed before PET to be able to proceed with the recount. – Helen Flores

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