The Manila Times – Withdraw motions, let’s start recount, Marcos dares Robredo
IF Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo really wants Filipinos to know the true results of the 2016 vice presidential race, she should withdraw all motions she filed before the Supreme Court which sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) so that the recount of votes can begin right away, the camp of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said Sunday.
Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, challenged Robredo to sign a joint motion withdrawing all outstanding motions filed by both parties that would pave the way for the recount.
“We have been instructed by Senator Marcos to draft the joint motion and Sen. Marcos is ready to sign it anytime. We are fervently hoping that Mrs. Robredo will do the same,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
He explained that by signing the joint motion, the parties could speed up the process and go straight to the recount.
“The ballots are the best evidence and we should just proceed with the recount,” Rodriguez added.
The camp of Marcos had accused Robredo of resorting to dilatory tactics by filing motions and manifestations.
Rodriguez noted that if Robredo really believes that she has the people’s mandate, she should allow the recount to begin immediately.
Earlier, Robredo’s lawyer claimed it was Marcos who was causing delay because of his request to the PET to resolve his questions on the integrity of the automated election system.
But Marcos decided to dismiss the issue on irregularity and withdrew the presentation of evidence on the matter.
Marcos in a recent news conference revealed 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 PET.
In some of the ballot images, even though two or more candidates were shaded in the vice presidential position, the votes still went to Robredo, instead of being considered as “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 explained.
Rodriguez said it is only by immediately proceeding to the recount that the parties could clear the issue on the ballot images, undervotes and overvotes.
“Senator Marcos believes that an issue as fundamental as the conduct of an elections should not be kept hanging for years on end. Unfortunately, in the vice presidential race, it has been almost two years and we have yet to see a single ballot,” he added.
“Let us open the ballots now and settle this issue once and for all,” he said.
Robredo’s camp however dismissed Marcos’ call as a publicity stunt, saying the vice president has no pending motion before the PET.
“They are the ones who actually have a pending motion. Just like the previous times that they have filed frivolous motions after the other to no end but delay the case. It is pure PR because we don’t have any pending motion,” Bernadette Sardillo, the counsel for Robredo, said in a statement.
“If they really want a recount [now], they should go to PET instead since it is the PET which will decide the merits of the case,” Sardillo added.
Robredo beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 polls.
The PET has allowed the recount of the votes in three provinces — Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
The retrieval of the ballots for the recount started on January 22 in Camarines Sur, the home province of Robredo.
The recount is expected to start in February.
JEFF ANTIPORDA AND LLANESCA PANTI