By Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
Basically agreeing with the stand of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to stand by its decision that the 25 percent oval shade threshold in determining the validity of votes has no basis.
In its manifestation, in lieu of comment, the OSG, led by Solicitor General Jose Calida took a contrary position from the Commission on Election (Comelec) which it was supposed to represent.
The threshold adopted by the Comelec is designed to scan every oval on the ballot and count as votes those that contain appropriate marks based on a pre-determined sharing threshold. Although the voters are told through the voter information to fully shade the ballots, the shading threshold was set at 25 percent of the oval space. Comelec said the purpose of which is to ensure that votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading.
But the PET, in its ruling last April 10 denied the 25 percent oval shade threshold and cited Comelec Resolution 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution 9164, which, it said, does not mention the threshold being raised by the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo.
It added that this is consistent with court rules, adding that while the 2010 PET rules state the 50 percent oval shade threshold, the 2018 Revisor’s Guide “did not impose a new threshold.”
Robredo immediately filed a motion for reconsideration and argued that allowing a 50 percent shade threshold would disenfranchise voters because votes that fell below the 50 percent threshold have already been counted as valid by the Vote Counting Machines in the 2016 national and local elections and then confirmed by the Random Manual Audit.
The camp of former senator Marcos has already opposed Robredo’s motion and asked the Tribunal to dismiss her plea.
In his comment, Marcos said there was “no categorical declaration” in Comelec resolution No. 16-0600 that the 25 percent oval shading threshold was adopted by the poll body en banc “during the judicial recount and revision of ballots in election protest.”
Calida, in his manifestation echoed the stand of Marcos, “insofar as the voters were concerned, they know that for their votes to be counted, they should fully shade the oval space. Therefore, the supposed disenfranchisement that would result in the application of the 50 percent threshold has no basis.”
Aside from declaring that the 25 percent oval shade threshold has no basis, Calida also asked the PET to give the Comelec 10 days to submit its own comment on the matter.
The PET started the recount last April 2 and said it could not determine yet when the recount would be finished.
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. /muf