Truth to come out in vote recount, says Robredo
“There is nothing to fear,” Vice President Leni Robredo assured supporters as the vote recount in the 2016 vice presidential election started on Monday at the gymnasium of the Supreme Court in Manila.
The Supreme Court is acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) handling the electoral protest of former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who narrowly lost the vice presidential race.
While admitting the fight may be difficult, Robredo said she was confident the truth would come out.
“What we went through gave us one lesson. Everything is difficult but as long as what we are fighting for is right, there will be light in the end,” she told supporters after Mass at St. Scholastica’s College Chapel in Malate, Manila.
Marcos on Monday claimed that some of the ballot boxes from Robredo’s home province had been pried open.
Accompanied by his wife, Liza, and sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, the former senator was cheered on by some 300 supporters when he briefly visited the revision hall of the PET on Padre Faura Street.
This early, the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos claimed that there were irregularities in the handling of the ballot boxes culled from the polling precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur.
Audit logs, wet ballots
Marcos also questioned why the audit logs of the ballot boxes in 38 of the 42 voting precincts in Bato town were missing while ballots in four other boxes were damp.
“These (wet ballots) will be rendered useless,” he told reporters.
“We really cannot understand [how it happened]. It’s impossible that those remained wet two years after the elections were held,” he added.
Marcos has contested the voting results in 39,221 clustered precincts in a bid to take over Robredo’s victory margin of more than 260,000 votes.
Of these, he wants the PET to conduct a manual recount of votes in 36,465 polling precincts and to nullify the votes from
the remaining 2,756 voting precincts.
Robredo has lodged a counterprotest, questioning results in about 8,000 voting precincts.
Her lead counsel, Romulo Macalintal, dismissed Marcos’ insinuations as “lies” and “fake news.”
Macalintal said representatives of the former senator knew beforehand that some of the ballots had been soaked in water after a typhoon hit Camarines Sur a few months ago.
In fact, he said PET members who supervised the retrieval of the ballot boxes had included in their report to the Supreme Court that some of the ballots were wet.
As to the missing audit logs, Macalintal said it was possible that some of the public school teachers, who served as election officers during the May 2016 automated balloting, just forgot to place the audit logs inside the ballot boxes.
The election lawyer insisted that the alleged irregularities raised by Marcos would not taint the credibility of the entire automated balloting and Robredo’s victory.
If at all, he said those incidents were just “technical glitches” that could be best addressed once the PET reviews the scanned images of the ballots, which were captured by the vote-counting machines.
“I think Marcos should consult the people he sent to retrieve the ballot boxes. He should do a little research from his people so he will know the truth,” Macalintal said in a press conference.
Automated, manual tallies
He said the credibility of the ballots would remain. “In all election protests from 2010 up to the present, automated elections [and] the manual recount of votes tallied with the election returns. That’s the reason why none of the election protests prospered.”
Macalintal also questioned why Marcos and not his election lawyers were the ones discussing the supposed anomalies that the latter observed on the first day of the recount.
He surmised that it was because Marcos’ lawyers were aware that the issues their client raised were not unusual.
Malacañang said it was glad that the recount of the votes in the vice presidential race was proceeding as it could finally put to rest claims of electoral fraud.
But this would be the extent of the Palace’s interest in the matter, said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“This is before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal already. So we leave it to the coequal branch to handle that,” Guevarra said. —With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and the wires
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