By Mara Cepeda | Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) denied Vice President Leni Robredo's motion to consider ballot ovals shaded by a minimum of 25% as valid votes in the ongoing electoral protest ballot recount.
In effect, the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will only count ovals meeting the 50% threshold percentage as valid.
The PET issued on Thursday, April 12, its resolution on Robredo's latest motion concerning the electoral protest filed against her by ex-senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
In her motion, the Vice President had argued that setting the minimum threshold percentage to 50% would lead to a "systematic decrease" in her votes, especially in her home province and bailiwick Camarines Sur. Ballots from this province are currently being recounted by the PET.
But the High Court did not agree with Robredo.
"Protestee's claim of a systematic reduction of her votes is without basis and shows a misunderstanding of the revision process," said the PET.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had implemented a 25% threshold percentage for the 2016 elections. This means that if a ballot oval is shaded by 25%, the vote-counting machine will count it as a vote in the corresponding candidate's favor.
In the 2010 elections, the threshold percentage set by the Comelec was 50%, stipulated under the 2010 PET Rules.
In denying Robredo's motion, the PET said it is "not aware" of any resolution issued by the Comelec that states the applicability of the 25% minimum threshold. It also ruled that the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report – which Robredo cited in her motion – cannot be treated as proof.
Instead, the PET turned to Comelec Resolution No. 8804, which states that any shading less than 50% shall not be considered a valid vote. This resolution was amended through Comelec Resolution No. 9164, which removed the 50% threshold but did not impose a new threshold.
The PET said the same principle is applicable to the 2010 PET Rules and the 2018 Revisor's Guide, which set the guidelines that revision committees must follow in conducting the vice presidential ballot recount.
The 2010 PET Rules explicitly mentioned the 50% threshold, while the 2018 Revisor's Guide removed it but did not impose a new threshold.
"In making mention of a threshold in the 2018 Revisor's Guide, this was in reference to the 50% threshold in the 2010 PET rules. This is because Comelec has not provided any other threshold which the Tribunal can take cognizance of," said the PET.
On Thursday, the PET also issued a show cause order directing the Marcos and Robredo camps to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for not observing the rule barring parties from disclosing information about a pending judicial case.