By Jefferson Antiporda | The Manila Times
THE camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday dismissed as “fake news” the claim by the camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo that he has abandoned his election protest by foregoing of witnesses to prove fraud in the May 2016 elections.
“Leni (Robredo) and her legal team are the epitome of fake news. We have not abandoned [the protest]and we are not abandoning anything,” Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez said in an interview.
Robredo made the argument on Thursday in a manifestation filed before the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), following the tribunal’s August 29 ruling that dismissed Marcos’ bid to invalidate the 2016 poll results and deferred action on Marcos’ motion for the annulment of election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan because of the absence of witnesses.
Robredo cited Marcos’ September 5 manifestation, which stated that “Protestant Marcos will no longer present any testimonial evidence to prove the material allegations in so far as 36,465 protested clustered precincts which functioned in the areas of Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Masbate, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Iloilo, Bohol, Quezon, Batangas, Western Samar, Misamis Oriental, Camarines Sur, Second District of Northern Samar, Palawan, Albay, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Zamboanga City are concerned.”
Marcos’ September 5 manifestation also stated that “the massive presence of vote buying during the last elections may be proven by other means aside from testimonial evidence such as the presence of marked ballots.”
He defined marked ballots as those that contained unnecessary marks or writings, deliberately or purposely placed on the ballots by voters for future identification. Marcos claimed the presence of marked ballots indicated vote-buying.
“With these admissions, protestant Marcos has abandoned his allegations of terrorism, violence, force, threats and intimidation in his second cause of action for the judicial recount and revision of ballots,” Robredo said in her September 14 manifestation.
Romulo Macalintal, counsel for Robredo, said Marcos’ admissions only proved that the former senator’s protest was fraudulent.
“Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was clearly lying about his claims in his protest and was simply fishing for evidence,” Macalintal said in a statement.
Marcos’ September 5 manifestation said the substitution of voters could be proven by a technical examination and forensic investigation of the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL), voters registration records (VRR), books of voters and other election documents used in the elections to determine the identities of the registered voters.
Also, unaccounted votes for the position of vice president can be verified through the judicial and manual recount and revision of the paper ballots, ballot images and voter’s receipts in each of the 36,465 clustered precincts covered by the protest, the Marcos camp said.
Rodriguez said the Marcos camp would present witnesses from the regional election director down to the provincial election supervisor.
“Even the provincial commander in the areas of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan. So it’s all lies, tigilan na nila ang panloloko sa tao (they should stop deceiving the people),” Rodriguez said.
He added that Robredo, being a lawyer herself, should be more scrupulous in her statements.