By Edu Punay | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — On the third day of the recounting of votes for vice president yesterday, the camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claimed another fraud had been unearthed with the alleged discovery of ballots with pre-shaded votes for Vice President Leni Robredo.
The discovery of the questionable ballots could not be immediately verified, but insiders claimed they came from Baao municipality, where a couple of wet ballot boxes were also found last Tuesday. It was not revealed, however, how many supposedly pre-shaded ballots were found.
“We were informed about these shaded or presided ballots earlier today. This is the truth that is already coming out and could no longer be hidden,” said Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez.
Sources claimed revisers also found several ballots cut into half – indicating they were unused or excess – but were found in the valid ballots with the Robredo votes.
But the camp of the Vice President questioned the information about pre-shaded ballots.
“These could be rejected ballots that were mistakenly placed inside the envelope for unused ballots. Based on experience – due to the conditions inside the precincts – mistakes happen,” Bernadette Sardillo, one of the lawyers of the Vice President, said.
Sardillo also questioned the leakage of such information from the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
“We find the report ridiculous since at that time, only one ballot box was opened and this report surfaced immediately. How can this be reported that quickly if no telephones or any mode of outside communication is allowed inside the revision area?” she asked.
The lawyer expressed belief the alleged discovery could be another attempt of the camp of Marcos “to throw shade in the recount process and further confuse the public.”
On the first two days of the recount, six wet ballot boxes were found from Bato and Baao towns in Camarines Sur. Robredo’s camp argued there was nothing irregular about wet ballots.
Marcos also questioned the missing audit logs from clustered precincts in Bato town discovered by revisers upon opening of the ballot boxes.
He revealed that 38 of 40 ballot boxes from the town in Camarines Sur – one of the three pilot provinces he identified for the recount – did not have audit logs.
Last Tuesday, four of the 40 head revisers resigned from their duties or only a day after the start of recount.
Robredo camp’s appeal
Meanwhile, Robredo’s lawyers have asked the PET to reverse the move of a revision committee rejecting their plea to have four ballots counted in Robredo’s favor.
The four ballots were found inside the envelope for unused ballots by the revision committee doing the recount for votes cast in Baao.
In a manifestation, lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Sardillo informed the PET that a revision committee prohibited them from claiming the four ballots from the municipality of Baao because there was no space in the revision report provided by the PET.
Macalintal noted that effectively, “(b)y the time the Honorable Tribunal is able to make any rulings on this issue, the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots in the said clustered precinct would have been already terminated.”
This means that “these four ballots will now be treated as uncontested ballots to the prejudice of Robredo,” he said. Macalintal said Robredo “has been deprived of her right to register her claims.”
Robredo has also been prohibited from making any manifestation in the revision report, he added.
Macalintal said the purpose of revision committees would be for naught if parties would not be allowed to register claims and objections before the head revisers of the PET.
“If the parties are required to keep going to the honorable tribunal to seek rulings on objections and claims, this renders nugatory ... the constitution of the revision committees,” said Macalintal.
“If incidents such as this would need to be submitted to the PET for proper ruling, then the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots should be conducted before all the members present to expedite the proceedings,” he said.
Macalintal explained they were constrained to file the manifestation before the PET because that was the remedy conveyed by the revision committee.
The National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) asked the PET to allow its volunteers and the media to observe the recount of the ballots involved in protest case of Marcos.