The Manila Times – Marcos protest rolls as tribunal orders retrieval of ballots

By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times 

The election protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos finally kicked off with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) obeying the order of the Supreme Court (SC) to decrypt and print the images of ballots cast in three pilot provinces.

This was despite the strong resistance of the camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who was accused by the Marcos camp of engaging in “delaying tactics.”

The court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), ordered the decryption and printing of data found in secured digital (SD) cards in the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila on Monday, pertaining to votes in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Marcos is protesting Robredo’s victory in the vice presidential election. He accuses Robredo, who won by 263,473 votes, of benefiting from “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities,” citing the alleged pre-shading of ballots, pre-loading of data in SD cards, misreading of ballots, and malfunctioning vote-counting machines.

Marcos is also questioning the “abnormally high” unaccounted for votes for the position of vice president.

Marcos counsel Victor Rodriguez claimed the lawyers of Robredo tried to delay the proceedings by asking for the postponement of the decryption as they brought only two revisors. The Marcos camp came prepared however, Rodriguez said.

“All these constant and spurious delaying tactics by the Robredo camp have been going on for more than a year now. What are they afraid of? If they believe she won, they should be rushing to count the ballots so that this issue could finally be laid to rest, in her favor. Instead, they have adopted a strategy of delay and obfuscation.” Rodriguez said.

The Comelec denied Robredo’s motion to postpone, and proceeded with the decryption of the ballot images beginning with Camarines Sur, Robredo’s home province.

The decryption was also attended by representatives of the PET and the Comelec Legal Department.

Rodriguez said the decryption and printing of ballot images in the three pilot areas would take at least seven months.

“They know that the recount will make the cheating by the Liberal Party as well as Robredo’s loss apparent to all,” he said.

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