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Manila Standard - Disregard OSG’s say on shading threshold, Leni asks Supreme Court

News & Interviews
17 July 2018

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Monday asked the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to disregard the comment of the Office of the Solicitor General on the matter of shading threshold to determine the validity of votes in the ongoing recount on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

In a 13-page manifestation dated July 13, Robredo said that the OSG comment should be disregarded as it is not privy to the threshold shading issue and that allowing its version of events on the shading threshold issue will “erode the very foundation of our democracy.”

Although the OSG is representing the Commission on Elections in the case, Solicitor General Jose Calida last week backed the 50 percent shading threshold favored by the side of Marcos, invoking the “tribune of the people” doctrine.

Calida also urged the PET to stand by its April 10 decision that the 25 percent shading threshold in determining the validity of votes in the ongoing recount has no basis.

The Comelec has yet to formally submit its comment to the PET on the issue though it has applied the 25 percent shading threshold in the Random Manual Audit.

But Robredo said the OSG has no personal knowledge to conclude that the application of the 50 percent shading threshold will not disfranchise voters.

“Thus, the OSG has no basis to once more make a reckless conclusion that the application of the 50 percent shading threshold does not disenfranchise the voters. In making its reckless conclusion, the OSG has revealed to the Honorable Tribunal its lack of knowledge on the ongoing revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots,” Robredo

Although she admitted that there are voters who disregarded the reminders of the Comelec to fully shade the oval beside the name of the candidates of their choice, Robredo said the vote counting machines still read and counted the votes cast.

According to her, to now disregard these valid votes what Marcos and the OSG want just because the voters failed to fully shade the oval will result to a massive disenfranchisement of voters.

The Vice President argued that chief state lawyer must not be allowed to be used as a venue by losing candidates to disregard the sovereign will of the electorate by applying different rules from those adopted and used during elections by the poll body.

Robredo said that while the SC has upheld that the OSG may take a position adverse and contrary to that of the government as also argued by Calida in his comment when he cited the decision on the Pimentel vs Comelec, the present case is different, especially since the Comelec has yet to formally submit its comment.

Marcos has already opposed Robredo’s motion and asked the PET to dismiss her plea and stand by its April 10 ruling.

He argued there was “no categorical declaration” in Comelec Resolution No. 16-0600 that the 25-percent shading threshold was adopted by the poll body “during the judicial recount and revision of ballots in election protest.”