MANILA, Philippines – The camp of ex-senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr told the Supreme Court (SC) it would be an "injustice" if the rule on the appreciation of ballots would be changed in the middle of the ongoing recount for the vice presidential electoral protest.
On Monday, May 28, Marcos' lawyer George Garcia filed before the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), his client's comment on the issue of the ballot shading threshold for the electoral case Marcos filed against Vice President Leni Robredo.
"It would be the height of injustice if the rules on the appreciation of ballots, specifically with regard to the shading threshold, would be amended in the middle of the recount/revision proceedings," said Marcos in his comment.
He added that doing so would be "unfair, unjust, and highly unprocedural" as it would grossly violate the 2010 PET Rules.
The SC already junked Robredo's petition to consider ballot ovals shaded by at least one-fourth or 25% as valid votes in the ongoing ballot recount. Instead, the PET will count only ballot ovals that are half-shaded.
This is despite a Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution issued in September 2016 stating that the vote-counting machines were configured to consider ballot ovals shaded by at least 25% as valid votes during the May 2016 polls.
Robredo referred to this Comelec resolution in her motion for reconsideration.
Marcos, however, said the PET is "more superior" than the Comelec in the hierarchy of electoral tribunals.
"With all due respect, this Honorable Tribunal is an independent constitutional body which is duly empowered 'to promulgate its own rules and procedures.' Hence, it cannot be dictated upon nor be subject to the whims and caprices of the Comelec," said Marcos.
50% shading applied in past polls?
In a separate media interview, Marcos said the 50% shading threshold was supposedly applied when votes were counted for President Rodrigo Duterte, ex-president Benigno Aquino III, former vice president Jejomar Binay, and other officials.
"Kaya ako, 'di ko maintindihan kung bakit eh ngayon, sa gitna ng recount, ay dapat nating palitan lahat ng rules na ating inoobserbahan sa nakaraang 3 halalan, ay papalitan ng lahat ng 'yun para sa aking katunggali. At wala namang maibigay na tamang dahilan," said Marcos.
(That's why I don't understand why the rules that were applied in the past 3 elections should be changed in the middle of the recount to favor my opponent. She has not even presented a correct argument.)
Robredo's lawyer Romulo Macalintal, however, disputed this.
"It is not true that the Comelec set [a] 50% threshold for the 2016 national and local elections. What the Comelec set was 25% threshold shading as stated in the September 6, 2016 Comelec en banc resolution adopting the recommendation of Commissioner Luie Guia," said Macalintal.
The veteran election lawyer turned the tables on Marcos and said the latter wants to change the rules in his favor instead.
"The position of Mr Marcos is a clear indication that he intends to take the protest towards his grand design, and at all cost, even to the extent of changing the rules of the game and putting to naught the voice of the innocent voters whose constitutional right of suffrage would be affected," said Macalintal.
Read the full copy of Marcos' comment on the vote shading threshold below: