Vice President Leni Robredo and lawyer Romulo Macalintal show a copy of a motion they filed before the Supreme Court yesterday.
Edd Gumban
VP recount: Leni insists on validity of partly shaded votes
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday insisted that partly shaded votes should be counted in the ongoing recount of the 2016 vice presidential poll results.

In an 11-page urgent motion, Robredo asked the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to reconsider its April 10 ruling that considered as valid votes only those that were shaded by at least 50 percent.

The vice president appealed to the tribunal to lower the limit and instead apply the 25-percent threshold set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the canvassing of votes in the last automated polls.

Failure to do so, she argued, would disenfranchise voters because votes with 25-percent shaded ovals have already been counted by the vote counting machines (VCM) and confirmed by the random manual audit committee.

“The physical count is now running inconsistent with the results based on the Election Returns, Statement of Votes by Precinct, Ballot Images and the Voter’s Verifiable Audit Paper Trial (VVPAT)... This misleads the Honorable Tribunal into believing that the VCM failed to accurately read and count the ballots,” her motion read in part.

Robredo insisted that the Comelec had set the threshold at 25 percent and that it informed the high court about this through a letter in September 2016. She explained that this threshold was set precisely to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters.

Although voters were told in various information campaigns to fully shade the ballots, the VCMs were programmed to scan every oval on the ballot and count as votes those that contain appropriate marks based on pre-determined sharing threshold.

The vice president also argued that her appeal is mutually beneficial to both parties since Marcos would also lose votes due to the shading limit.

“More importantly, while it is true that the votes of protestee Robredo, as counted by the VCM, are being systematically decreased, the same is true for the votes of protestant Marcos as well.

Hence, both parties will benefit in the application of the 25 percent threshold percentage during the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots,” she added.

Robredo, who personally filed the motion with her lawyer Romulo Macalintal, pleaded with the PET to decide on the matter in the “interest of justice and fair play.”

In an interview, she said they are only asking the high court to apply the same standards that were applied to other candidates and in previous elections.

“Right from the start, we are giving our trust to the process, to the PET. That trust, that is what we are holding on to, that will bring us the truth,” she added.

Robredo did not discuss details of the ongoing recount as the PET earlier issued a gag order to the parties and even issued show cause order after both camps were quoted in the media discussing merits of the election protest.

In reaction, the camp of Marcos called on the vice president to respect the PET ruling and stop casting doubts on the integrity of the ongoing recount.

Marcos’ spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, accused Robredo’s camp of “trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.”

“Since it is the Rules of the Tribunal that shall apply, her invocation of the 25-percent threshold rule is erroneous as it was made by the Comelec only on 6 September 2016, four months after the elections. It is an obvious ploy on the part of the Comelec, then led by the impeached chairman Andres Bautista, to favor Robredo once the revision process starts,” he alleged in a statement.

LENI ROBREDO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL
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