Calida defends taking up Marcos stand on VP voting threshold issue
The Office of the Solicitor General has urged the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to junk Vice President Leni Robredo’s appeal to apply the 25 percent threshold in determining the validity of votes in the ongoing vice presidential election recount.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File

Calida defends taking up Marcos stand on VP voting threshold issue

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - July 10, 2018 - 3:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida defended Tuesday his stand on the contested vote shading threshold in the ongoing vice presidential recount before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

“As the People’s Tribune, it is the Solicitor General’s duty to present to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the Republic,” Calida said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

He added that the solicitor general can present a stance that may be different from the government agency he may be representing, which in this case is the Commission on Elections.

The tribunal last April ordered the Comelec to comment on Vice President Leni Robredo’s appeal on the shading threshold used to determine the validity of a vote.

As the government’s lawyer, the Office of the Solicitor General represented the Comelec.

In the appeal, Robredo is urging the PET to count as valid votes with 25 percent shaded ovals, instead of 50 percent. She said that this was the measure used by the machines in the 2016 automated elections, as stated in a Comelec resolution.

But Calida, in his compliance with the PET order, distanced his client from the issue. He said that the case is now under the jurisdiction of the PET, and not the Comelec.

READ: Solgen: No basis for PET to apply 25 percent threshold in VP recount

He also stressed that the matter on what threshold percentage should be applied in determining the validity of votes was already settled by the tribunal, as stated in the 2010 Rules of PET.

“The determination of the 50% threshold is in the 2010 Rules of the PET, which has the legal authority under the Constitution to promulgate such rules,” the solicitor general said.

“Thus, the decision to choose the 50% threshold cannot be questioned by the protestee [Robredo],” Calida added.

This was the same stand taken by the Marcos camp on the threshold issue.

Calida added that the SC in its jurisprudence acknowledged that “the Solicitor General may, as it has in instances, take a position adverse and contrary to that of the Government.”

He stressed that, as the government’s chief legal counsel, it is “incumbent upon him to present to the court what he considers would legally uphold the best interest of the government although it may run counter to a client’s position.”

The recount has entered its 3rd month, since it started on April 2. Ballots from Camarines Sur, one of Marcos’ identified pilot provinces, were first to be opened by the PET.

If Marcos wins his case, this will mark a big step in his family's continuing effort to rehabilitate its name and reclaim the presidency, more than 32 years after his father was ousted from power by a military-backed popular revolt.

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