Manila Standard - PET denies Leni’s plea on shading limit

13 April 2018

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

THE Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has junked Vice President Leni Robredo’s motion asking that it follow the shading threshold set by the Commission on Elections to consider votes as valid during the revision of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Robredo’s claim that the Comelec applies a 25-percent threshold in determining a valid vote is inaccurate, the PET ruled in a resolution signed by Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta.

The Robredo camp had asked the PET to apply the 25-percent threshold for ballot shading when it begins the manual recount of vice presidential votes from over 5,000 ballot boxes from three provinces as part of the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The Court is not aware of any Comelec resolution that states the applicability of a 25-percent threshold; and the tribunal cannot treat the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report as proof of the threshold used by the Comelec,” the PET said.

In ruling against Robredo’s motion, the PET cited Comelec Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9164, which does not mention the threshold raised by the vice president.

Before it was amended, Resolution No. 8804 stated that any shading less than 50 percent shall not be considered a valid vote, it said.

The tribunal added that this is consistent with PET rules, adding that while the 2010 PET rules state the 50-percent threshold. The 2018 Revisor’s Guide “did not impose a new threshold,” it added.

Also citing the 2018 Revisor’s Guide, the PET found Robredo’s claim of a “systematic reduction” of her votes “without basis and shows a misunderstanding of the revision process.”

It said ballots under question, under the rules, will be marked for examination by the PET.

“During the revision proceedings, there is yet no final reduction or even addition of votes. Such final reduction or addition of votes may only take place after the tribunal has ruled on the objections and/or claims and after reception of evidence of the parties, if necessary,” the PET said.

The Marcos camp hailed the PET decision, saying it showed Robredo’s lack of knowledge about the rules on revision.

“We are happy with the PET ruling junking Robredo’s motion stating effectively that she and her lawyers are ignorant of the rules on revision,” said Vic Rodriguez, a Marcos spokesman.