CNN Philippines - Robredo, Marcos camps ready for vote recount

1 April 2018

By Ver Marcelo | CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 1) — The camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos are looking forward to the vote recount to be conducted by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) starting Monday.

In a statement, Robredo's camp said they are confident the recount will only affirm the vice president's win.

"Kumpiyansa kami at walang dapat ikatakot sa magiging resulta ng recount dahil walang dudang si Vice President Leni Robredo naman talaga ang nanalo noong 2016 elections," said Robredo's legal counsel Romulo Macalintal.

[Translation: We are confident and we are not afraid of the results of the recount because it was really Vice President Leni Robredo who won the 2016 elections.]

The recount will happen two years after Marcos brought his electoral protest to the Supreme Court, sitting as the PET. He lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes.

Since the implementation of the automated elections in 2010, Macalintal said electoral protests had been dismissed because the results of the manual ballot count tallied exactly with that of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and the consolidated canvassing system.

"Sa kasaysayan ng ating automated election system, wala pang nananalong protesta sa halalan mula pa noong 2010," Macalintal said.

[Translation: In the history of the automated election system since 2010, there has not been a successful election protest.]

Marcos' camp, meanwhile, took a swipe at Robredo for her alleged moves to delay the poll count.

"We have endured two years of waiting due to Robredo's habitual and intentional moves to delay the election protest and deliberate attempts to bury the truth," Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said in a statement Sunday.

He also said the recount will once and for all dispel "all the uncertainty that beclouds the true choice of the electorate and prove that Mrs. Robredo cheated her way to the Vice Presidency."

In its grant of Marcos' plea, the PET decided upon Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental as the pilot provinces for the ballot recount.

Marcos identified the three provinces as "best exemplifying fraud or irregularities" in his protest brief.

Robredo also listed three provinces in her own counter-protest brief: Capiz, Sulu, and North Cotabato.

Her camp maintained the election protest of Marcos is based on general allegations and manufactured evidence designed to sway the results in his favor.

Marcos had also questioned the appearance of "mysterious squares" on ballot images beside Robredo's name, saying it was a proof of fraud.

However, Robredo's camp had explained the squares are the vote-counting machines' way of recognizing a shade on the circle next to the candidate.

The PET has earlier required Marcos to pay P66 million and Robredo P15 million in two tranches to fund their protests and counter-protests. A petitioner needs to pay P500 per contested precinct.

Tedious process

The tedious recount will happen inside a gymnasium in the Supreme Court compound in Manila.

There will be 50 revision tables for 50 revision committees. The PET adhoc committee, however, said it can set up only 40 committees when the recount begins on April 2. As it is, they need to hire 10 more revisors.

Each committee is composed of a head revisor - a PET employee - and one representative for each of the two candidates.

Head revisors are carefully picked as the revision committees face a huge task which would be performed within a given time frame.

They must process the results of over 5,000 clustered precincts from three pilot provinces chosen by Marcos.

In places where there are less than 300 ballots, they must finish the recount in five and a half hours. For 300 to 699 ballots, they only have a little more than eight hours. And for more than 700 ballots, they are given 11 hours.

Should there be objections or claims by either of the parties, the PET would have the last say.

This is the first time the PET will be doing a recount. The counting is off-limits to media, and the tribunal would only issue announcements should the need arise.