MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is set to begin recount of votes in February next year on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo.
The ballot recount covers the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental which were chosen by Marcos as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities he cited in his poll protest.
Robredo's counsel, Romulo Macalintal and Marcos' lawyer, George Garcia, were at the SC on Monday for a meeting on the regulations governing the recount of votes and a tour of the venue for the recount process.
Macalintal expressed confidence the recount will confirm and affirm the victory of Robredo as the duly elected vice president in the May 2016 elections.
This is so because in all the more than 500 automated election protest cases filed since 2010 to the present not a single election protest involving local elective positions had been successful where the issue was merely recount of the ballots, he said.
All of them were dismissed because the results of the physical count of the ballots tallied exactly with the results of the count made by the vote counting machines (VCMs) and the consolidated canvassing system (CCS), Macalintal said.
Macalintal said first to be reviewed are the ballots from the contested clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, the vice president's home province, which will be retrieved on January 22, 2018 with the recount slated for second week of February.
This will be followed by the two other pilot provinces.
Macalintal said under the PET Rules, if Marcos could not prove any substantial recovery of votes from these three pilot provinces, the former senator's protest will be dismissed for lack of merit.
For Camarines Sur alone, Macalintal said PHP9.6 million would be charged to Marcos' cash deposit for the retrieval of ballots, salaries and allowances of employees, security, transportation, and other expenses.
If the results in the recount of ballots for local elective officials were accurate, Macalintal said there was no reason why the recount for a national position would be different considering that the ballots used for the local and national elective positions were the same and they were counted and tallied by the same VCMs and CCS.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29 last year, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.
He sought the annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces � Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.
In his preliminary conference briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.
She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.
The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier this year, junked Robredo's plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos' 14,155,344 votes.
Source: Philippine News Agency