Names 3 pilot provinces for vote recount, lists 362 witnesses
In compliance with the order of the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today filed his Preliminary Conference Brief laying out the issues, witnesses and other evidentiary matters in his election protest.
Comprised of 81 pages, Marcos, through his counsel George Erwin Garcia, enumerated his Admissions, Proposals for Stipulation, Issues to be resolved, List of Witnesses and Documents in support of his protest as well as Proposals for the prompt disposition of the case.
The PET required the parties to submit their respective Preliminary Conference Brief on or before today, June 16, 2017 leading to the Preliminary Conference which had been postponed to July 11, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Garcia likewise enumerated the three pilot provinces for the vote recount or revision which under the Rules of Tribunal will best attest to the votes recovered or will best exemplify the merits or legitimacy of his protest. They are Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
In an interview, lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, explained that the three pilot provinces were chosen because they will clearly show that there are major discrepancies in the votes cast in the ballots and those transmitted by the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and reported in the Certificates of Canvass (COCs).
Rodriguez explained that while Camarines Sur is the hometown of Ma. Leonor “Leni Daang Matuwid” Robredo, it is highly improbable that she would get more than eighty percent of the votes cast when all of the other vice presidential candidates were either from the Bicol Region or had ties in the said region.
Robredo supposedly obtained 643,865 votes to Marcos’ 40,195 votes. The other Bicolano candidates namely Senator Francis Escudero, who is from Sorsogon, obtained only 36,509 votes while Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano, whose wife is from Albay got 14,601 votes. Senator Antonio Trillanes, who traces his roots to Albay got 11,334 votes while Senator Gregorio Honasan, whose mother is from Sorsogon garnered only 7,005 votes.
With respect to Iloilo, Rodriguez pointed out that it is extremely implausible that Robredo obtained 573,729 votes as against Marcos’ 94,411 votes when his running mate, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, was from the said province and they were warmly received by the Hiligaynons during their sorties there.
Negros Oriental, on the other hand, was chosen because Robredo’s supposed 248,102 votes as against Marcos’ 99,208 votes is dubious considering the fact that Marcos was supported by the biggest political families in the province.
Further, Rodriguez pointed out, the three provinces had the some of the highest undervotes recorded which raised suspicion on the results of the elections. Undervotes are ballots not counted either because the voter did not vote for a certain position or there were unclear markings in the ballot.
“According to election experts from here and around the world, the acceptable rate of occurrence of undervotes should be just 1 percent. But when the undervotes are more than 5 percent like in these 3 provinces, that should cause alarm and suspicion because it is not normal. And we are talking about a hotly contested vice presidential race, we should expect Filipinos to really vote for the said position and not just leave it blank or put unnecessary marking that would invalidate their vote,” Rodriguez stressed.
A total of 362 witnesses were listed in the preliminary conference brief who may be called upon to testify and submit supporting evidence. Some of them include Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officials led by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, Directors Jose Tolentino, Esther Roxas, J. Thaddeus Fernan, Teopisto Elnas and Ferdinand De Leon; Smartmatic executives Marlon Ramos and Elie Moreno, election officers in the thirty three contested provinces and cities as well as election and Information Technology experts.
Marcos is contesting the results of 36,465 clustered precincts in 30 provinces and cities all over the country citing fraud under three main issues in his protest, namely the “flawed” Automated Election System (AES), the failure of elections in several provinces in Mindanao and the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script / program) into the Transparency Server on the day of the elections.
To expedite the proceedings, Marcos also asked the PET to order the following actions:
1. Direct the immediate collection, retrieval, transport and delivery of all ballot boxes and their contents in all the protested clustered precincts of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental;
2. The creation of two more panels of commissioners consisting of three members each to assist the Tribunal during the reception of evidence and trial proper;
3. Creation of at least One Hundred (100) recount/revision committees to conduct the manual recount and judicial revision of the paper ballots and/or ballot images as well as technical examination, forensic investigation, verification and analysis of the documents, paraphernalia and equipment used in the elections of the pilot provinces;
4. Order the simultaneous manual recount and judicial revision of the paper ballots and/or ballot images as well as technical examination, forensic investigation, verification and analysis of the documents, paraphernalia and equipment used in the elections of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao;
5. Order the immediate decryption and printing of the ballot images from the relevant Secure Digital (SD) cards and/or other data storage devices in each of the thirty six thousand four hundred sixty five (36,465) in the following protested areas: CEBU PROVINCE, LEYTE, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, NEGROS ORIENTAL, MASBATE, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, BUKIDNON, ILOILO PROVINCE, BOHOL, QUEZON PROVINCE, BATANGAS, WESTERN SAMAR, MISAMIS ORIENTAL, CAMARINES SUR, 2ND DISTRICT OF NORTHERN SAMAR, PALAWAN, ALBAY, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL, PANGASINAN, ISABELA, ILOILO CITY, BACOLOD CITY, CEBU CITY, LAPU-LAPU CITY, and ZAMBOANGA CITY; and
6. Immediately after the manual recount and judicial revision, order the examination, verification and analysis of election documents from the three pilot provinces.