The Manila Times - ‘PET voted to do away with ballot-shading thresholds’

News & Interviews
1 October 2018

By Jomar Canlas, TMT | The Manila Times

MUNICH, Germany: The Supreme Court (SC) en banc, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has voted to do away with ballot-shading thresholds in an electoral protest over results of the 2016 elections for Vice President.

This revelation by sources of The Manila Times in the high court came after it was reported that the PET has lowered the threshold to 25 percent in the protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

According to the first source, the electoral tribunal’s real ruling is that there is no need to decide the correct percentage because what will matter is ballot appreciation by revisors.

The source said it is inaccurate to say that the Robredo camp already won the protest after the PET reportedly gave its nod to the 25-percent shading threshold.

This means that it shall neither be 25 percent as claimed by the Vice President’s supporters or 50 percent as claimed by the Marcos camp.

The second source said the real proof that the 25-percent threshold did not win in the PET votation is the fact that the original draft resolution by the ponente of the case, SC Justice Benjamin Caguioa, was amended and was not adopted by the electoral tribunal.

Instead, the tribunal agreed to adopt the Caguioa draft with deletion of the 25-percent threshold in the dispositive portion.

The first source said the dispositive portion in Caguioa’s original 20-page draft resolution “partially granted” Robredo’s urgent motion for reconsideration to bring back the threshold to 25 percent.

This draft, according to the source, was amended and the PET agreed to disregard any threshold.

“[The PET] ….partially grant protestee’s urgent motion for reconsideration [of the resolution dated 10 April 2018]with reiterative prayer to immediately direct the head revisors to use the 25-percent threshold percentage in the revision, recount and reappreciation of ballots dated April 18, 2018 only insofar as the use of the 50-percent threshold in determining the votes read and counted by the VCMs [vote counting machines]in the revision proceedings,” the SC source told The Manila Times, quoting part of the dispositive portion of the first Caguioa draft ruling that was deleted.

The SC sources said the original draft was further amended to delete the portion “Set aside the tribunal’s resolution dated April 10, 2018” as indicated in the dispositive portion.

In his protest, Marcos assailed the election results in 39,221 clustered precincts — 36,465 of which he pays for conduct of manual count and judicial revision, while the remaining 2,756 he prays for annulment of the results.

Based on Commission on Elections data, the 39,221 clustered precincts are composed of 132,446 precincts.

Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes, accused her of massive electoral fraud such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loading of Secure Digital or SD cards, misreading of ballots and malfunctioning VCMs and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of Vice President.

The PET’s Rule 62 points out that head revisors “shall bear in mind that the will of the voters reflected as votes in the ballots shall, as much as possible, be given effect, setting aside any technicalities.”

The electoral tribunal explained that since revision of votes pertains “simply to recount[ing]the votes of the parties,” it should then “mimick [or verify/confirm]” how the VCMs actually read and counted the votes during the 2016 elections.