Iloilo voters back Robredo's plea on voting threshold issue

Iloilo voters back Robredo's plea on voting threshold issue
In this April 19, 2018 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo, flanked by her legal counsels Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo, personally trooped to the Supreme Court, that sits as the PET, to file the motion for reconsideration on the 50-percent threshold rule.
Office of the Vice President / Released

MANILA, Philippines — A group of voters from Iloilo province on Thursday urged the Supreme Court, sitting as the President Electoral Tribunal, to apply 25-percent shading threshold in determining the validity of a vote in the ongoing vice presidential race recount.

In a letter to Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Iloilo voters led by actress Cynthia Patag told the tribunal that their “votes will be disenfranchised” and their “voices will not be heard” if a higher threshold will be used in the recount. They said that as voters, they are empowered by the 1987 Constitution to “choose leaders” they believe in.

“This right should and must not be taken away from us. We are ready to fight fiercely for this invaluable right which gives our voices a chance to be heard, to level the playing field for ordinary citizens like us,” the letter read.

This is in support of Robredo’s appeal to the tribunal asking for the same action. The vice president, in a motion she personally filed on April 19, said that the Commission on Elections applied the 25-percent threshold during the 2016 national elections.

Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., challenged Robredo's win in the 2016 national elections in an electoral protest before the PET.

On April 2, the PET started its recount of ballot boxes from Marcos’ three pilot provinces. Robredo insisted that the tribunal should apply 25-percent threshold in a determining the validity of a vote as the Commission on Elections had set this threshold for the 2016 elections.

The voters, in their letter, also said that the PET “could find itself violating its very mandate if it continues to implement the 50-percent threshold in the election protest for Vice President.”

“We are 5,500 Ilonggos humbly asking the PET to protect the sanctity of our votes by upholding the 25-percent threshold,” the letter further read.

The PET ordered the Comelec and the camp of Marcos to comment on Robredo’s motion for reconsideration.

The Office of the Solicitor General, representing the Comelec, took the stand of the Marcos camp and said that the Commission has no say on the matter since it is the tribunal that has jurisdiction on the case.

Solicitor General Jose Calida cited the 1987 Constitution and pointed out that the PET has exclusive jurisdiction over election contests relating to the president or vice president. "Thus, the decision to choose the 50% threshold cannot be questioned by the protestee," Calida said in his manifestation before the tribunal.

Robredo, through her lawyer Romulo Macalintal, urged the the tribunal to give Comelec time to file its own comment on the threshold issue. Macalintal pointed out that the OSG only filed a Manifestation with Motion on the matter, in lieu of a comment.

He argued that the Comelec is “best suited to confirm the threshold percentage used during the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections,” as the Commission is constitutionally mandated to enforce and administer the conduct of elections.

“It is only Comelec who can confirm that the threshold percentage applied during the May 9, 2016 national and local elections was 25 percent,” Macalintal added.

— Kristine Joy Patag

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