By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times
FORMER senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday bared “solid and incontrovertible evidence of cheating” in the 2016 vice presidential election, claiming that votes for him in two provinces were not counted and considered “undervotes.”
In a news conference in Manila, Marcos showed photocopies of what he described as “shocking” and “highly questionable” ballot images from Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental, two of the three pilot provinces in his election protest pending before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET).
In some of the ballot images, even though two or more candidates were shaded in the vice presidential race, the votes still went to his opponent, former Camarines Sur representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, instead of being considered “overvotes,” the former senator said.
“We discovered in some ballots that if the votes were for me, they were not counted and were considered undervotes. So that’s why the undervotes for the vice presidency were high, more than 3 million. But my opponent got the votes even if these were not supposed to be counted in her favor,” Marcos said.
Marcos lost the vice presidential race to Robredo by 263,473 votes.
“They keep on delaying in giving us the copies. It has been three months since the ballot images were printed and it was only recently that the PET allowed us to get the soft copies. Now we know why. This is shocking and highly questionable. This is precisely the reason why, because they knew we would uncover how they had manipulated the voting and trampled upon the true will of the people on their choice for vice president,” Marcos said.
The Marcos camp said it discovered evidence of poll fraud after securing some of the digital copies of ballot images from some of the clustered precincts in two pilot recount areas, Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental. The PET has yet to decrypt ballot data from the third recount pilot province, Iloilo.
Squares, not ovals
Marcos questioned the presence of square shapes on the ballot images instead of the oval shapes which voters shaded for their choice of candidates. “When we voted, we had the oval shapes. How come in the ballot images, the ovals are gone and instead we have the squares. What does this mean?,” Marcos said.
He added: “[W]e could see based on the election results summary that the squares indicated the candidates that were voted upon. But this is a new feature that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic added in the system and I had been told they did not inform the candidates of the presence of this feature in the images.”
Marcos also pointed out that in the previous elections, the ballot images would contain oval shapes because the images were supposed to be just mirror images of the actual ballots. “How come in the 2016 elections, there are squares? The ovals are now missing. Comelec should explain this,” he said.
In his protest, Marcos is assailing the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts. He is paying for a recount in 36,465 precincts, and wants the results annulled in 2,756 precincts. Based on Comelec data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of 132,446 precincts.
“We will show more proof as we go through the rest of the printed ballot images. They bastardized our democracy and the sense of honesty and integrity of the Filipino people. It is evil. Their depravity is unprecedented,” Marcos said.
He also challenged the camp of Robredo to withdraw all their motions so that the recount of votes can start.
“I reiterate my challenge, withdraw all your [Robredo] motions that will serve to delay the recount, I will withdraw all my motions that are still pending so that no more outstanding issues, no stances that the electoral tribunal would study . . . and let us proceed with the opening and recount of ballots,” Marcos said.
“Let us proceed to the recount,” he added.
Earlier this month Marcos questioned the PET ruling to withhold the original copies of the decrypted ballot images and other documents from Marcos after requiring him to pay for the costs of the decryption and the printing of the ballot images.
In a resolution dated January 10, 2018, the PET ruled that it would keep the original copies of the ballot images despite previously requiring Marcos to pay for the copies and the costs of decryption.
Also, the PET ruled that although Marcos was allowed to get the “photocopies or soft copies of the decrypted ballot images,” he should pay anew for the “incidental costs” of securing the images.
He said the latest PET ruling showed the bias by the case’s ponente, Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa.
Caguioa is the classmate from elementary to college of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd. Aquino previously appointed him (chief presidential legal counsel) and later on to the high court.