By Rey Panaligan | Manila Bulletin
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has ordered the municipal treasurers of four towns in Camarines Sur to explain the damaged or wet ballots, election returns, and voters’ receipts discovered in the course of the manual recount and revision of votes in the vice presidential election protest.
In a notice, the PET – composed of all Supreme Court justices – resolved “to require the municipal treasurers to explain within 10 days from notice hereof, why the ballots were wet or damaged.”
There were 11 incident reports on damaged or wet ballots cited in the PET’s notice sent to municipal treasurers.
The incidents on damaged or wet ballots were discovered during the first two weeks of recount that started on Aprl 2 on the protest filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
The damaged or wet ballots were found inside the ballot boxes retrieved from several precincts in the towns of Bato, Sagñay, Garchitorena and Ocampo.
The PET has ruled that since the damaged or wet ballots were unreadable, the revisors were ordered to refer to the decrypted ballot images in the recount of votes.
But, the PET said, the use of the decrypted ballot images would be done after the manual recount and revision of ballots are finished in all precincts in Camarines Sur.
The tribunal also acted on an incident report involving ballot boxes that were reopened after they were sealed without returning the broken security seal inside the ballot boxes.
In its notice, PET said: “… note the Incident Report dated April 10, 2018 relative to Ballot Box No. 25 at Table 12 for Clustered Precincts 0062A, 0062B, 0063A and 0063B for Sto. Niño, Sagñay, Camarines Sur, that contained wet ballots and was resealed without the broken security seal returned back inside the box prior to the resealing.”
Earlier, PET revisors had said that there were votes cast for President Duterte that were not counted in his favor in the 2016 presidential election in Camarines Sur.
On condition of anonymity, the revisors said they discovered “many of these incidents” but they did not pay so much attention because their concern is the result of their manual recount and revision of ballots in the vice presidential protest.
“ They said they randomly checked the votes cast for the presidency “to check if there were also discrepancies in the presidential election after discovering discrepancies in the results for the vice presidential election.”
President Duterte won the 2016 election with more than 6.6 million votes than those garnered by his closest rival, Mar Roxas.
The manual recount and revision of votes in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental is now on its eighth week. The results in the recount and revision of ballots in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental would determine if the PET would still pursue the protest in 24 more provinces and cities covered by Marcos’ case.
Robredo was declared winner and was proclaimed vice president with more than 14.41 million votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14.15 million votes.
Marcos filed a protest while Robredo filed a counter-protest and the two cases were consolidated by the PET.