As this developed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) maintained that the threshhold for considering a valid vote during the 2016 general polls was the 25 percent ballot shading, contrary to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET)’s ruling that it should be 50 percent.
Edd Gumban
Robredo camp slams Marcos attempt to influence recount
Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday slammed a lawyer for losing candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for allegedly trying to “unduly influence” the ongoing manual recount.

As this developed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) maintained that the threshhold for considering a valid vote during the 2016 general polls was the 25 percent ballot shading, contrary to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET)’s ruling that it should be 50 percent. 

Robredo’s lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Maria Bernadette Sardillo filed a second manifestation of grave concern before the Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, over the actions of lawyer Joan Padilla at the PET revision area on April 13.

“Instead of merely observing the proceedings on April 13, Padilla went around the revision area, aggressively telling the PET head (revisers) to implement the 50-percent threshold percentage,” Macalintal said.

He said Padilla also told the head revisers to post the PET resolution “in every corner or table in the revision area.” 

Macalintal further said Marcos’ lawyer was also heard informing the head revisers that she no longer wanted the revision committees to check the votes of the parties vis-à-vis the election returns. 

He said Padilla stopped only after the attention of the PET head revisers was called.

“Unfortunately, such conduct, which she herself will condemn or had condemned in election cases she handled with similar incidents, not only disrupted the proceedings but can be construed as unduly influencing the PET head (revisers),” Macalintal said.

The PET last week denied a motion filed by Robredo asking the tribunal to count the “one-fourth shaded” ballots in the ongoing recount.

In a resolution, dated April 10, the tribunal maintained that the recount would observe a 50-percent threshold percentage, which Macalintal said was double the 25 percent configured in the vote counting machines in the 2016 elections. 

As the PET applies the 50-percent threshold in the recount, around 5,000 votes for Robredo from her home province Camarines Sur have so far been invalidated.

Meanwhile, Robredo said they have “many concerns” with regard to the ongoing manual recount.

“We have many concerns. But we can’t talk about it. We’re not allowed to talk about the case,” she said in an ambush interview in Pasay City.

The recount covers a total of 5,418 clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, the three pilot provinces identified by Marcos in his electoral protest against Robredo.

Robredo defeated Marcos by 263,473 in the 2016 vice presidential race. 

Threshold down to 25 percent

According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, there was a resolution issued by the poll body that adopted the use of 25-percent threshhold by the random manual audit committee (RMAC) as a policy.

“In 2016, what I know is the threshhold was down to 25 percent. There was a resolution issued in September... There’s something like that,” he noted an interview over ANC.

Jimenez was apparently referring to the minute resolution unanimously signed by the commission in September 2016, adopting the memorandum of Comelec commissioner and RMAC head Luie Tito Guia to lawyer Felipa Anama, then clerk of the PET.

The memorandum stated that “when a mark covers at least 25 percent of the oval, said mark is supposed to be considered a vote by the system.”  

This was intended to ensure that “votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading or that no accidental or unintended small marks are counted as votes.”

The memorandum was issued in response to the request of PET for a copy of the Comelec guidelines used in the manual counting of ballots by RMAC.

Jimenez said the number of votes will really “change” if counted by the vote counting machines using the 25-percent threshhold while during human counting, the threshhold that will be used is 50 percent.  

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS FERDINAND MARCOS JR. LENI ROBREDO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL
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