Robredo, Marcos counsels clash on undervotes
Lawyers representing vice presidential candidates Leni Robredo and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. clashed on the issue of undervotes on the second day of Congress’ canvassing of votes for president and vice president.
Marcos’ camp repeatedly raised the number of undervotes for the position of vice president in every certificate of canvass opened during the canvassing at the House of Representatives.
George Garcia, who is representing Marcos, said the undervotes for vice president was more than 3 million so far, with 113 out of 166 COCs canvassed, which he said was a “very large amount” considering the “highly anticipated” elections and high voter turnout.
“Hindi naman namin sinasabing impossible ‘yun. Talaga namang nangyayaring hindi tayo bumoboto for president, for vice president. Pero take note of the percentage. It’s 3.2 million Filipinos who did not vote for vice president,” Garcia told reporters in an ambush interview.
“Ang sinasabi namin sana naman maipaliwanag. At sana malaman natin kahit hindi ngayon, kahit in the future, bakit nagkaroon ng ganoon,” he said.
But Garcia said their camp was not saying that the “unaccounted for” undervotes went to Robredo, adding that they raised the issue for “legal strategy” and “historical purpose.”
“We are not saying that that the undervotes went to a particular candidate. What we are saying is based on our observation on the COCs. That is for the board to appreciate, and to emphasize that perhaps something went wrong in as far as our computerized election is concerned,” Garcia said.
“That is for legal strategy, for historical purpose. Babasahin ng journal ng mga future Filipinos, makikita na hindi naman namin pinabayaan ‘yung boto nila na hindi naman nawala. Whatever legal remedy that we would like to seek later, later masasabi namin sa inyo kung bakit namin ine-emphasize ang null votes sa bawat COC na kina-canvass,” he added.
Romulo Macalintal, a counsel for Robredo, said the use of the phrase “unaccounted for” to refer to undervotes was “misleading,” maintaining that null votes are not signs of error or irregularity in an election.
READ: Macalintal: Nothing irregular with undervotes in VP fight
“I think these words are misleading. There are no unaccounted votes because all votes are duly recorded in COCs canvassed by the National Board of Canvassers. This is what we call null votes and this term was used in cases where the voter did not vote for a particular position,” Macalintal said in a manifestation before the canvassing was suspended.
“Sa madaling salita, sa kaso ng undervotes ay walang himala sapagkat walang balota na nawawala,” he added.
Macalintal reiterated that not all voters opted to vote for all positions, noting that an abstention must be “equally respected as one’s right to vote.”
“Hindi ko alam bakit pinag-iinitan ung undervote. Matagal na ‘yung 2004 elections, marami ding undervotes. According to Wikipedia, nasa 5.1 million ang undervote. Ibig sabihin, marami talagang nag-aabstain, ang hindi bumoboto sa isang posisyon, ‘yan ay hindi bawal hindi ‘yan iregularidad, hindi ‘yan tanda ng anumang pagkakamali at yan ay bahagi ng ating halalan. May mga botante, nagkaka-abstain, hindi bumoboto sa isang particular na posisyon,” Macalintal told reporters in an ambush interview.
But for Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, a member of the Senate canvassing panel, undervote was a “non-issue.”
“If you notice the concept of undervotes is always mentioned but the lawyers are not objecting to the inclusion. Hence, it is clearly a non-issue in the proceedings, even the lawyers know this, that is why they are not objecting,” Pimentel said. TVJ
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