Ro­bredo camp slams Mar­cos at­tempt to in­flu­ence re­count

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By HE­LEN FLORES and SHEILA CRISOSTOMO

The camp of Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo yes­ter­day slammed a lawyer for los­ing can­di­date Fer­di­nand Mar­cos Jr. for al­legedly try­ing to “un­duly in­flu­ence” the on­go­ing man­ual re­count.

As this de­vel­oped, the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) main­tained that the thresh­hold for con­sid­er­ing a valid vote dur­ing the 2016 gen­eral polls was the 25 per­cent bal­lot shad­ing, con­trary to the Pres­i­den­tial Elec­toral Tri­bunal (PET)’s rul­ing that it should be 50 per­cent.

Ro­bredo’s lawyers Ro­mulo Ma­cal­in­tal and Maria Ber­nadette Sar- dillo filed a sec­ond man­i­fes­ta­tion of grave con­cern be­fore the Supreme Court, sit­ting as the PET, over the ac­tions of lawyer Joan Padilla at the PET re­vi­sion area on April 13.

“In­stead of merely ob­serv­ing

the pro­ceed­ings on April 13, Padilla went around the re­vi­sion area, ag­gres­sively telling the PET head (re­vis­ers) to im­ple­ment the 50-per­cent thresh­old per­cent­age,” Ma­cal­in­tal said.

He said Padilla also told the head re­vis­ers to post the PET res­o­lu­tion “in ev­ery cor­ner or ta­ble in the re­vi­sion area.”

Ma­cal­in­tal fur­ther said Mar­cos’ lawyer was also heard in­form­ing the head re­vis­ers that she no longer wanted the re­vi­sion com­mit­tees to check the votes of the par­ties vis-à-vis the elec­tion re­turns.

He said Padilla stopped only af­ter the at­ten­tion of the PET head re­vis­ers was called.

“Un­for­tu­nately, such con­duct, which she her­self will con­demn or had con­demned in elec­tion cases she han­dled with sim­i­lar in­ci­dents, not only dis­rupted the pro­ceed­ings but can be con­strued as un­duly in­flu­enc­ing the PET head (re­vis­ers),” Ma­cal­in­tal said.

The PET last week de­nied a mo­tion filed by Ro­bredo ask­ing the tri­bunal to count the “one-fourth shaded” bal­lots in the on­go­ing re­count.

In a res­o­lu­tion, dated April 10, the tri­bunal main­tained that the re­count would ob­serve a 50-per­cent thresh­old per­cent­age, which Ma­cal­in­tal said was dou­ble the 25 per­cent con­fig­ured in the vote count­ing ma­chines in the 2016 elec­tions.

As the PET ap­plies the 50-per­cent thresh­old in the re­count, around 5,000 votes for Ro­bredo from her home prov­ince Ca­marines Sur have so far been in­val­i­dated.

Mean­while, Ro­bredo said they have “many con­cerns” with re­gard to the on­go­ing man­ual re­count.

“We have many con­cerns. But we can’t talk about it. We’re not al­lowed to talk about the case,” she said in an am­bush in­ter­view in Pasay City. The re­count cov­ers a to­tal of 5,418 clus­tered precincts in Ca­marines Sur, Iloilo and Ne­gros Ori­en­tal, the three pilot prov­inces iden­ti­fied by Mar­cos in his elec­toral protest against Ro­bredo.

Ro­bredo de­feated Mar­cos by 263,473 in the 2016 vice pres­i­den­tial race.

Thresh­old down to 25 per­cent

Ac­cord­ing to Com­elec spokesman James Jimenez, there was a res­o­lu­tion is­sued by the poll body that adopted the use of a 25-per­cent thresh­hold by the ran­dom man­ual au­dit com­mit­tee (RMAC) as a pol­icy.

“In 2016, what I know is the thresh­hold was down to 25 per­cent. There was a res­o­lu­tion is­sued in Septem­ber... There’s some­thing like that,” he noted an in­ter­view over ANC.

Jimenez was ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to the minute res­o­lu­tion unan­i­mously signed by the com­mis­sion in Septem­ber 2016, adopt­ing the me­moran­dum of Com­elec com­mis­sioner and RMAC head Luie Tito Guia to lawyer Felipa Anama, then clerk of the PET.

The me­moran­dum stated that “when a mark cov­ers at least 25 per­cent of the oval, said mark is sup­posed to be con­sid­ered a vote by the sys­tem.”

This was in­tended to en­sure that “votes are not wasted due to in­ad­e­quate shad­ing or that no ac­ci­den­tal or un­in­tended small marks are counted as votes.”

The me­moran­dum was is­sued in re­sponse to the re­quest of PET for a copy of the Com­elec guide­lines used in the man­ual count­ing of bal­lots by RMAC.

Jimenez said the num­ber of votes will re­ally “change” if counted by the vote count­ing ma­chines us­ing the 25-per­cent thresh­hold while dur­ing hu­man count­ing, the thresh­hold that will be used is 50 per­cent.

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