Comelec, Marcos camp ordered to comment on Robredo poll recount plea

MANILA The Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has ordered former Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comment on the motion for reconsideration filed by Vice President Leni Robredo seeking to reverse its earlier ruling which denied her motion insisting on the legality of the threshold supposedly set by the poll body in considering valid votes in the ongoing recount for the 2016 vice presidential race.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced the decision during magistrates' summer session in Baguio City on Tuesday.

Directed the protestant and the Commission on Elections to comment on the protestee's Motion for Reconsideration dated April 19, 2018 on the requirement to observe a 50 percent threshold percentage on the recount within 10 days from notice, Te said.

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 shading 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.

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.

Last April 10, the PET 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.

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.

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.

Source: Philippine News Agency