Recount in vice president polls starts today

Both Marcos and Robredo camps have been pushing for the resolution of the case as the PET historically has not resolved any of the previous cases based on merit since all were dismissed solely based on mootness. Photo

Recount in vice president polls starts today

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will start today the recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

The PET will conduct the revision of ballots, or manual recount of votes, for its resolution of the election protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

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

All four previous poll protests handled by the SC – the 1992 contest between former president Fidel Ramos and the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the 2004 race between former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., the 2004 contest between former vice president Noli de Castro and Sen. Loren Legarda, and the 2010 race between former vice president Jejomar Binay and former senator Mar Roxas – did not reach this level.

Both Marcos and Robredo camps have been pushing for the resolution of the case as the PET historically has not resolved any of the previous cases based on merit since all were dismissed solely based on mootness.

Robredo defeated the dictator’s son in the May 2016 vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.

Marcos filed the poll protest on June 29, 2016, accusing Robredo’s camp of cheating in the automated polls. In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities. He sought a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

The recount will cover a total of 5,418 clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental—the three pilot provinces pinpointed by the Marcos camp.

The recount will be held at the gymnasium of the Supreme Court-Court of Appeals building, which was opened to the media last week for ocular inspection.

It will be conducted daily from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by 50 revision teams each composed of three members—a head from the PET and one representative each from the camps of Robredo and Marcos.

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

The tribunal also created an ad hoc committee composed of three lawyers – Jose Lemuel Arenas, Edgar Aricheta and Ma. Carina Cunanan – that will supervise the proceedings.

The PET is now keeping about 1,400 ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, which will first undergo recount this week. Other ballot boxes are currently with the Commission on Elections due to storage issues and these will be transferred to the PET by batches.

Over 200 personnel are also expected to come in per day during the recount, including 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 round-the-clock. CCTVs were also installed surrounding the recount venue and storage area.

Members of the media and security personnel of both parties will not be allowed inside the venue.

The PET is proceeding with the recount after both camps agreed to withdraw all the motions they had filed before the tribunal.

Robredo camp: We have nothing to fear

Robredo’s camp yesterday expressed confidence of her victory ahead of today’s start of manual recount.

“We are confident and we have nothing to fear about the results because there’s no doubt Vice President Robredo really won in the 2016 elections,” Robredo’s lead counsel Romulo Macalintal said.

Macalintal said the recount would underscore Robredo’s victory as vice president and vindicate her from the baseless accusation of Marcos that she cheated her way to victory in the last election. – With Helen Flores

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