Vice President Leni Robredo is asking the tribunal to apply the 25-percent threshold, not 50 percent in determining the validity of votes.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Comelec backs Robredo appeal: 25% shading threshold used in 2016 polls
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 26, 2018 - 2:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections backed Vice President Leni Robredo’s argument that a threshold of 25 percent was used during the determination of vote validity in the 2016 national and local elections.

The Comelec filed its own comment on the threshold issue over the ongoing vote recount over former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s legal challenge to Vice President Leni Robredo’s electoral win in 2016.

The Comelec filed its comment through its own law department, and took a stand in departure of the Office of the Solicitor General’s Manifestation with Motion, in lieu of a comment. The poll body is headed by Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Robredo asks PET to give Comelec time to answer voting threshold issue

It said: “The Comelec, in the exercise of its constitutional mandate to administer elections and decide all questions relating to elections, has decided to calibrate the automated voter counting system for the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections to read as valid votes, marks that cover at least about 25% (when seen by human eyes) of the oval for each candidate.”

This backs Robredo’s argument when she urged the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to apply 25-percent threshold in the ongoing electoral recount.

The OSG took up the stand of the Marcos camp and urged the PET to drop Robredo’s appeal and stand by its earlier resolution, stating that votes shaded by 50 percent will be counted as valid.

Threshold used in all positions

The Comelec also stated that the same threshold was used in all positions for the 2016 national and local elections.

“The chosen technology—optical scanning technology—appreciates votes or non-votes according to how it is configured to that at least about 25% (when seen by human eyes) of the oval for each candidate,” the comment read.

“All election results are based on this threshold,” the Comelec added.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in his manifestation filed on July 6, denied that votes would be disenfranchised if the higher threshold will be imposed in the recount since the Comelec has reiterated that voters need to fully shade the oval for their chosen candidate.

He told the tribunal that the voters were told that “for their votes to be counted, they should fully shade the oval space.”

The poll body also stressed that while it advised voters to fully shade the ovals corresponding to their candidate, “it has set the shading threshold of the oval at about 25% to guarantee that the votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading or that no accidental or unintended small marks are counted as votes.”

“To use different standard would be erroneous and may result to unnecessary questions on the legitimacy of all elected officials, from the President down to the last Sangguniang Bayan member,” the Comelec also said.

The recount of the ballots from Marcos’ identified pilot provinces started on April 2. Robredo, in her motion, said that her appeal remains pending while the recount has already moved to ballots from Iloilo province.

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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