Journal Online - ‘Sorry Leni, you got the wrong law’

15 April 2018

By Hector Lawas | Journal Online

THE Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has junked Vice President Leni Robredo's motion asking that it follow the shading threshold supposedly set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in considering which votes are valid or not.

Robredo's legal team asked PET to apply the 25-percent threshold for ballot shading as it embarks on its manual recount of vice presidential votes from over 5,000 ballot boxes from three provinces as part of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong”Marcos. Jr.’s challenge to her 2016 poll victory.

In her motion, Robredo had argued that setting the minimum threshold percentage at 50% would lead to a “systematic decrease” in her votes, especially in her home province and bailiwick Camarines Sur. Ballots from this province are currently being recounted by the PET.

But the Tribunal did not agree with Robredo.

In a five-page resolution dated April 10, 2018 and signed by SC Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta, PET said Robredo’s claim of a systematic reduction of her votes is without basis and shows a misunderstanding of the revision process.

The High Tribunal also said that the protestee's claim that the Comelec as purportedly confirmed by the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report applies the 25% threshold percentage in determining a valid vote is inaccurate.

“The Court is not aware of any Comelec Resolution that states the applicability of a 25% threshold; and the Tribunal cannot treat the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report as proof of the threshold used by the Comelec,” it said.

Instead, the PET cited Comelec Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9164, which it said does not mention the threshold raised by Robredo's camp.

“Prior to the amendment in Resolution No. 9164, Rule 15, Section 6 of Resolution No. 8804 states that any shading less than 50% shall not be considered a valid vote,” it added.

The PET said the same principle is applicable to the 2010 PET Rules and the 2018 Revisor's Guide, which set the guidelines that revision committees must follow in conducting the vice presidential ballot recount, adding that while the 2010 PET rules states the 50-percent threshold, the 2018 Revisor's Guide "did not impose a new threshold."

Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.

In his protest, Marcos contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clusters, covering 27 provinces and cities.

Robredo was proclaimed as vice president in the May 2016 vice presidential polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos' 14,155,344 votes.