PET sets aside 50-percent shading threshold for VP recount
Vice President Leni Robredo has earlier asked the tribunal to apply the 25-percent threshold, not 50 percent, in determining the validity of votes.

PET sets aside 50-percent shading threshold for VP recount

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 26, 2018 - 9:41am

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Electoral Tribunal has partially granted Vice President Leni Robredo's plea to set aside an earlier resolution that imposed the a 50-percent threshold in determining that validity of votes in the ongoing electoral recount. 

In a 20-page resolution, the PET said: “After assiduously going through the parties’ comments and arguments, the Court herein resolves to partially grant the Subject Motion insofar as setting aside the use of fifty percent (50%) threshold in the revision proceedings is concerned.”

'Fifty-percent threshold not used in 2016 polls'

The tribunal has also stated that the “for the purposes of the 2016 elections, the fifty percent shading threshold was no longer applied.”

Robredo asked for the “immediate imposition of a 25-percent threshold by the Head Revisors” in relation to the instant protest.

The Commission on Elections backed Robredo’s stand in its own comment, and said that it “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.”

The Comelec’s stand was a departure from the Office of the Solicitor General, that represents government agencies. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida took the stand of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos 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.

PET not informed of change in vote threshold

The PET clarified that, contrary to the claim of Robredo and the Comelec, the tribunal was not informed that the commission used a 25-percent threshold. 

It stressed that Comelec resolution was not attached to the letter sent to the tribunal in September 2016.

“Given that at the time of the drafting the approval of the 2018 PET Revisor’s Guide and the commencement of the revision process...the Tribunal was therefore constrained to follow the fifty percent threshold under the 2010 PET Rules,” it added.

But the PET said that following the submission of documents by Robredo and the poll commission, “show that during the 2016 elections, instead of a single numerical threshold that ranged from twenty percent to twenty-five percent of the oval spaces in the ballots.”

No decrease in votes

The PET also told Robredo that with the ongoing recount or revision proceedings, “there is yet no final deduction or addition of votes.”

Robredo earlier noted in a her motion for reconsideration that in vote counting at Barangay Laganac in Balatan, Camarines Sur where Robredo received 358 votes.

Upon the application of the 50 percent threshold, a physical recount on the ballot yielded 346 votes for the vice president. Votes for Marcos did not change in the tally.

But the tribunal said that it would be “highly premature” of the Robredo camp to claim deduction of votes at this stage.

“The purpose of revision is simply to conduct a physical recount of the ballots and thereafter record the objections or claims of the parties with respect to the ballots under revision,” it added.

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, it will be 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 in 1986.

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