Manila Standard - Bongbong, Leni spar over 'news'

By Rey E. Requejo and Rio N. Araja | Manila Standard

THE camp of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday slammed Vice President Leni Robredo for trying to discredit the media in her attempt to deflect all negative news arising from the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s supervised recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, called on the Vice President to stop undermining the integrity of the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, and the ongoing manual recount of votes aimed at determining on who actually won the vice presidency in the 2016 polls.

“Not satisfied in casting aspersions mean to undermine the integrity of the Tribunal and of the ongoing manual recount, Robredo is at it again, this time attacking and discrediting members of the press and dragging Senator Marcos in her desperate attempt to dilute all negative news affecting her in the election protest,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“We find it ironic and lamentable that Mrs. Robredo attacked the media on World Press Freedom Day,” he added.

In a related development:

• Robredo’s camp allayed fears she might not stay in power because of the ongoing manual recount.

“We assure Robredo’s supporters and the entire Filipino people that the official ruling of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal will eventually sustain Robredo’s victory and will expose the falsity and self-serving propaganda peddled by her detractors,” Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said.

He said there was no truth that the votes of Robredo had been reduced by about 20,000 votes.

“There is no such official finding made by the [Supreme Court acting as] PET and any such data or information is a mere product of political propaganda by Robredo’s detractors,” he added.

The supposed reduction of votes was mere observation or objection raised by [former senator Ferdinand] Marcos revisors brought about by the confusion of the correct percentage threshold to be applied in appreciating the shading of the votes for candidates, which issue is still pending before the PET, Macalintal said in a statement.

“But we are very confident that with the resolution of the Commission on Elections sustaining 25 percent threshold, the said objections to Robredo’s votes will be denied,” he said.

“We challenge any group spreading the news that Robredo was officially deducted by PET of such number of votes to show evidence of their claim,” he added.

Rodriguez made the statement after Robredo accused the Marcos camp of instigating a “huge PR stunt” in connection with the ongoing election protest.

The vice president broke her silence over what she described as “false claims and lies” and “organized misinformation” designed to discredit her and condition the mind of the people by resorting to spreading “fake news.”

She called out several news agencies for reporting that she lost some 21,000 votes in the ongoing revision of votes under the supervision of PET.

“If her votes have indeed been substantially reduced, it is not because of BBM but of evidence of her cheating that have come out,” the Marcos lawyer stressed.

“At this moment, it would be best if she just follow our lead in observing silence, shut her mouth for lack of sensible matter to say and accord utmost respect to members of the media and the Tribunal’s resolution on sub judice,” he said.

On Thursday, Robredo dismissed reports that her lead over Marcos narrowed to some 240,000.

A PET source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak for the tribunal, revealed that the lead of Robredo over Marcos has been cut down by 21,000 votes, after a month since the PET started the revision of votes.

Besides Manila Standard, other newspapers such as the Manila Times and the Manila Bulletin, published the story.

The PET, however, has not yet issued any resolution or update on the recount process, nor has it confirmed that there has been evidence of electoral fraud since the revision started on April 2.

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 won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.