URGENT MOTION. Vice President Leni Robredo files an urgent motion before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to recognize the 25% shading threshold when counting votes in the 2016 vice presidential race recount, April 19, 2018. Photo from OVP
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday, April 19, filed an urgent motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to apply the 25% shading threshold when counting votes.
The PET is recounting ballots from Camarines Sur and retrieving ballots from Iloilo and Negros Oriental – all pilot provinces as identified by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who filed the electoral protest. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
"It is respectfully prayed to the Honorable Tribunal that a resolution be issued immediately directing the head revisors to use the 25% threshold percentage used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the May 9, 2016 national and local elections in lieu of the 50% used in the May 10, 2010 national and local elections," Robredo said in her 9-page motion which she personally filed before the PET on Thursday.
Speaking to her supporters gathered outside the SC, Robredo said, "Ang hinihingi po natin, na kung ano iyong batayan noong pagbilang ng mga boto noong eleksyon, at kung ano iyong batayan ng pagboto ng lahat ng kandidato, iyon din sana iyong batayan na gamitin sa atin."
(What we're asking is that the same standard in counting the votes in the last elections, the standard applied to all candidates, be applied to me as well.)
Context: As the PET conducts a manual recount in pilot provinces, it has to reopen ballots. If it sees an oval that's not completely shaded, how would revisors count it?
Robredo said the Comelec has a resolution stating that if 25% of the oval is shaded, then the vote is counted.
In an earlier resolution, the PET rejected Robredo's position and said it was not aware of a Comelec document stating so. In effect, the PET resolved to apply a 50% shading threshold.
What's in the motion: Robredo submitted a minute resolution from the Comelec signed by former chairman Andres Bautista and 6 commissioners adopting and confirming a memorandum of Commissioner Luie Guia.
Guia's memorandum refers to a letter to the PET dated September 6, 2016, saying that "the threshold was set at about 25% of the oval space."
"This is to help ensure that votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading or that no accidental or unintended small marks are counted as votes," Guia told the PET.
Marcos camp's comment: Vic Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesman, criticized Robredo for "casting aspersions meant to debase [the PET's] integrity" with her accusation of systematic vote reduction.
Citing Article 8 of the Constitution, Rodriguez pointed out that the PET assumed jurisdiction of the case when Marcos filed his protest in June 2016, while the Comelec only ruled on allowing the 25% threshold on September 6, 2016 – 4 months after the election.
It is therefore "the Rules of the Tribunal that shall apply" in the recount, Marcos' spokesman said. (READ: SC says no basis for Robredo's claim of 'systematic decrease' in her votes)
"It is an obvious ploy on the part of the Comelec, then led by the impeached chairman Andres Bautista, to favor Robredo once [the] revision process starts," Rodriguez said.
Why September 2016? Critics of Robredo are passing around a Facebook post reflecting Rodriguez's point – why Guia's memorandum was issued only in September 2016, or 4 months after the polls.
Marcos filed the electoral protest in June 2016. According to the Comelec resolution, the PET made a query on August 12, 2016, on what guideline it implemented for counting votes.
That's when Guia wrote the PET to say that the Comelec set the threshold at 25%. It was then backed by the entire Comelec en banc in the minute resolution that Robredo is citing.
A 50% shading threshold was applied in the 2010 elections as specified in Comelec Resolution No. 8804.
However, Robredo said the Comelec passed Resolution No. 9164 that deleted the portion in No. 8804 on the 50% threshold.
"To date, Resolution No. 8804 as amended by Resolution No. 9164 has not been superseded," the Vice President said.
Robredo added that Guia's memorandum and the Comelec's resolution, both dated September 2016, "give the honorable tribunal the legal basis to impose a 25% threshold percentage in determining whether a vote is valid."
Robredo noted that the resolution came before the recount of the ballots "which only commenced on April 2, 2018."
Losing votes? Robredo's lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, denied rumors that the Vice President has already lost 5,000 votes from the ongoing recount.
"Hindi po totoo 'yun. Walang nabawas kahit isang boto. May nagsasabi may excess ballots daw. Wala ring katotohanan 'yun. Walang excess ballots na nakikita sa tribunal dahil ang excess ballots nangyayari lamang 'yan sa manual elections," Macalintal said.
(That's not true, we did not lose even one vote. Some are saying there were excess ballots. That's also not true. There were no excess ballots found by the tribunal because excess ballots only occur during manual elections.)
Macalintal also denied reports that independent revisors have quit since the start of the recount.
Both the Robredo and the Marcos camps have been ordered by the PET to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for still talking to media and violating the sub judice rule.
Macalintal said he's still crafting his response to the PET. – Rappler.com