THE Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has required former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Commission on Elections to file their comment on the appeal of Vice President Leni Robredo to lower the 50 percent threshold in the recount of votes for the 2016 vice presidential race.
Marcos and the Comelec were given 10 days to comment on Robredo’s motion for reconsideration, after the PET rejected her bid to lower the threshold to 25 percent.
In her urgent motion for reconsideration, Robredo through her lawyer Romulo Macalintal warned that the 50 percent threshold would disenfranchise voters who failed to adhere to the threshold even though their votes had already been counted as valid by the vote counting machines and confirmed by the Random Manual Audit Committee for passing the 25 percent threshold.
According to the tribunal, the 2010 PET rules stipulate a 50 percent threshold and that the 2018 Revisor’s Guide “did not impose a new threshold.”
But Robredo, in her appeal, argued that the Comelec informed the PET in September 2016 through a letter about its use of the 25 percent threshold in declaring votes as valid.
Robredo said the threshold adopted by the Comelec is designed to scan every oval on the ballot and count as vote those that contain appropriate marks based on pre-determined sharing threshold.
While 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.
Robredo said that with the PET’s ruling declaring that the threshold be at 50 percent, “the physical count is now running inconsistent with the results based on the Election Returns, Statement of Votes by Precinct, Ballot Images and the Voter’s Verifiable Audit Paper Trial (VVPAT).”
The Robredo added that not only her votes will be affected by the 50 percent threshold, but the votes of Marcos.
“Hence, both parties will benefit in the application of the 25 percent threshold percentage during the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots,” she said.
Earlier, the Marcos camp had slammed Robredo for trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the recount, after she accused the PET of systematically reducing her votes in the manual recount.
The Robredo camp maintained it has not “disclosed any sensitive information regarding the revision process” in previous media interviews.
Both the Robredo and Marcos camps were told to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for violating PET’s February gag order on developments in the manual recount.
Robredo’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, blamed the Marcos camp for releasing statements about the recount, and said they were “constrained” to answer “frivolous” pronouncements being made by Marcos and his spokespersons.
“Any statements thus made were on general principles of law or otherwise in defense of the rights, honor and integrity of the Vice President of the Philippines,” he said.
He alleged sensitive information regarding the revision, not found in any official pronouncements of the Tribunal, had been discussed by Marcos’ lawyer, Vic Rodriguez and the allies of the former senator, such as lawyer Glenn Chong.
“There were even various newspaper reports carrying stories, quoting an ‘insider from the Tribunal,’ about sensitive information on the revision,” he said.