SolGen bucks Comelec norm, vetoes Leni’s stand on shading threshold
Solicitor General Jose Calida, representing the Commission on Elections (Comelec), supported the 50-percent shading in ballots in the recount of votes cast in the 2016 vice presidential elections.
Going against the Comelec’s own standard of a 25-percent threshold, Calida asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to affirm its April 10 decision applying the 50-percent threshold, a move that could cost Vice President Leni Robredo votes in the recount.
Calida campaigned for defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
A 50-percent threshold means only ballots on which the ovals have been shaded by at least half would be counted in favor of a candidate, while a 25-percent threshold means only shading a quarter of the oval will be accepted.
Calida, whose office is mandated to serve as counsel to government agencies, told the PET in his 21-page motion that the 50-percent threshold “is not unreasonable, inasmuch as the recount of ballots in election protests is done manually.”
He also cited the PET’s own view that the imposition of the 50-percent threshold “is based on the inability of the human eye to distinguish the 25-percent threshold.”
Comelec’s valid vote
Robredo, in arguing for the 25-percent shading guideline, earlier cited the Comelec’s September 2016 filing with the PET setting the threshold for a valid vote at 25 percent.
Calida, however, said the Comelec’s position only “referred to an optical scan counting system, and not a manual counting.” He also argued that the Comelec had “no jurisdiction over vice presidential election contests.”
“The application of the 50-percent threshold will not disenfranchise voters,” Calida said, citing the Comelec manual instructing voters to fully shade the ovals on the ballots.
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