By Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
The camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos identified three provinces for the pilot manual recount and judicial revision of ballots in connection with his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In his 81-page preliminary conference brief, the Marcos camp identified Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental for the recount or revision 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).
“We are contesting 36,000 clustered precincts comprising of 30 provinces but we are looking at the numbers and we have seen that these provinces are very significant,” Atty. Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson for the former senator said.
Rodriguez explained that of the six vice presidential candidates, five traces their roots in Bicol.
“But if you will check the numbers, Senator Francis Escudero only received less than 40,000 votes considering that he ran for public office several times,” he said, adding that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, whose wife is from Albay got 14,601 votes. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who traces his roots to Albay got 11,334 votes while Senator Gregorio Honasan, whose mother is from Sorsogon garnered only 7,005 votes.
He also noted that there are almost 65,000 undervotes in Camarines Sur. The three provinces, he said, have a total of 300,000 undervotes. Undervotes are ballots not counted either because the voter did not vote for a certain position or there were unclear markings in the ballot.
“Again what is the significance or relevance of those undervotes. Parang may 7th candidate for vice president na tinago nila sa pangalan na undervotes sapagkat hindi nanalo yun five pang kandidato sa undervotes,” Rodriguez said.
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 appeared to be dubious considering the fact that Marcos was supported by the biggest political families in the province.
The Marcos camp listed a total of 362 witnesses 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 Garcia and Elie Moreno, election officers in the thirty three contested provinces and cities as well as election and Information Technology experts.
Marcos, in his protest listed three causes of action.
The first part of Marcos petition was about the Automated Election System (AES). He said the vote counting machines (VCM), which was one of the components of the automated system supplied by Smartmatic, have no “demonstrated capability” nor was it ever successfully used in a prior electoral exercise either in the Philippines or in any other country.
The second part of his petition consists of the more “traditional” modes of cheating like vote buying, pre-shading, intimidation and failure of elections, among others.
He specifically asked for the reopening of ballot boxes in each of the 36,465 clustered precincts in Cebu, Province of 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, Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City.
Marcos is also asking the PET to annul the election results in Lanao Del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao where the ballots have been pre-shaded and recount of 22 provinces and five cities.
The third part of the protest focused on the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script / program) into the transparency server as well as the effects brought about by the unauthorized change.