Robredo asks PET to reverse junking of poll recount motion

MANILA Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday asked the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to reverse its April 10 ruling which denied her motion asking it to follow the threshold supposedly set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in considering votes as valid in connection with the ongoing recount of the votes for the 2016 vice presidential race.

In an 11-page motion for reconsideration, Robredo, who was accompanied by her lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Maria Bernadette Sardillo, asked the PET to set aside its April 10 resolution denying her plea for the 25-percent threshold to be applied.

The threshold adopted by the Comelec is designed to scan every oval on the ballot and count as a valid vote those that contain appropriate marks based on pre-determined sharing threshold. Although the voters are told through the voter information to fully shade the ballots, the shading threshold was set at 25 percent of the oval space. Comelec said the purpose is to ensure that votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading.

Robredo wants the PET to "immediately direct the Head Revisors to use the 25-percent threshold percentage used by the Commission on Elections for the 09 May 2016 National and Local Elections in lieu of the 50 percent used in the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections."

The granting of this prayer would benefit both her and Marcos, the motion said.

More importantly, while it is true that the votes of protestee Robredo, as counted by the VCM, are being systematically decreased, the same is true for the votes of protestant Marcos as well. Hence, both parties will benefit in the application of the 25 percent threshold percentage during the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots, read the motion.

Ang hinihingi po natin na kung ano yung batayan ng pagbilang ng mga boto nung eleksyon, at kung ano yung batayan sa lahat ng kandidato ay yun din po ang maging batayan. Para malaman ang katotohanan. Tayo po mula sa umpisa, binibigyan po nating yung tiwala sa proseso, sa PET yung tiwala na yun, yun ang pinanghahawakan natin na mabigay ang katotohanan (What we are asking for is what has been the standard in the past election's voting, and what has been the standard for other candidates. That standard would be the standard for us. Right from the start, we are giving our trust to the process, to the PET. That trust is what we are holding on to, that will bring us the truth), she told her supporters outside the SC.

Stop making excuses

Marcos' spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, meanwhile said Robredo should stop accusing the PET of systematically reducing her votes and casting aspersions meant to debase its integrity.

Robredo cheated her way to the Vice Presidency and in this ongoing manual recount and judicial revision, she is attempting to cheat the Filipino people again by trying to change the rules in the middle of the game, he said when sought for a comment.

The election case was filed by BBM June of 2016 and since then jurisdiction of the case is with the PET and no other as provided by Article 8 of the Constitution. Since it is the Rules of the Tribunal that shall apply, her invocation of the 25 percent threshold rule is erroneous as it was made by the Comelec only on 6 September 2016, four months after the elections. It is an obvious ploy on the part of the Comelec, then led by the impeached chairman Andres Bautista, to favor Robredo once revision process starts, he explained.

The PET, in its ruling last April 10 denied Robredo's plea to direct the head revisors to apply the correct threshold percentage as set by the Comelec in the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots, in order to expedite the proceedings for lack of merit.

Protestee's (Robredo) claim that the Comelec, as purportedly confirmed by the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report, applies the 25 percent threshold percentage in determining a valid vote is inaccurate, the PET said.

PET said it is not aware of any Comelec Resolution that states the applicability of a 25 percent threshold; and the Tribunal cannot treat the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report as proof of the threshold used by the Comelec.

In fact, Comelec Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9164, which is Comelec's procedure for the recount of ballots in election protests within its jurisdiction, does not mention a 25 percent threshold, it added.

Prior to the amendment in Resolution No. 9164, Rule 15, Section 6 of Resolution No. 8804 states that any shading less than 50 percent shall not be considered a valid vote. The wording is in fact the same as Section 43(1) of the 20 I 0 PET Rules. Comelec Resolution No. 9164, however, removed the 50 percent threshold but did not impose a new threshold, the PET stated.

The Court said, it is consistent with PET's rules, adding that while the 2010 PET rules states the 50-percent threshold, the 2018 Revisor's Guide "did not impose a new threshold."

Further citing the 2018 Revisor's Guide, the PET also found Robredo's claim of a "systematic reduction" of her votes "without basis and shows a misunderstanding of the revision process.

Under the rules, it said ballots under question will be marked for examination by the PET.

"During the revision proceedings, there is yet to final reduction or even addition of votes. Such final reduction or addition of votes may only take place after the Tribunal has ruled on the objections and/or claims and after reception of evidence of the parties, if necessary," the tribunal said. (With reports from Jay Ray Masayda, OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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