Marcos asks PET to 're-examine' results of poll recount where Robredo won

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Vice President Leni Robredo (L) and former Senator Bongbong Marcos (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 7) — Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. has not given up on taking the vice president's seat, as he now asked the Supreme Court to "reconsider, review and re-examine" the results of a ballot recount in three provinces where his rival Leni Robredo won. 

Marcos asked the high court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to revisit the results of a poll recount conducted in precincts in Iloilo, Camarines Sur — Robredo's bailiwick — and Negros Oriental, where the incumbent vice president's lead rose by 15,000 votes after the ballot review. The pilot areas for the recount were chosen by Marcos' camp.

Robredo to Marcos: How many wins should I get for you to accept defeat?

The former senator's team wants the tribunal to reconsider its findings and conclusions, saying there were 174 signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors in Iloilo, which had "glaringly different" signatures compared to other election documents. Marcos' lawyers added that votes objected to by their camp have been "erroneously overruled" in the recount, saying that there were hundreds of ballots which were not shaded or had partial markings in favor of Robredo but were counted anyway.

"As for the claims of protestee Robredo which were admitted even though the ovals for claimant were ambiguously shaded, that finding and conclusion of the Preliminary Appreciation Committee is again flawed," the petition read, adding that some votes credited to Robredo did not specify the basis for doing so.

The lawyers of the defeated vice presidential bet submitted its comments on the recount on December 19, 2019, or two months after the PET released the results. Marcos' response spanned nearly 600 pages, plus annexes.

The PET originally gave the lawyers of Marcos and Robredo just 20 days to submit their comments on the court's next course of action, but both asked for more time to study the pile of documents in court.

Nullify votes in Mindanao

In the request, Marcos' team also insisted to tap handwriting experts to validate voter signatures in Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan as he pushes to nullify ballots tallied in these areas, saying that the Commission on Elections discovered "massive fraud" here. They want this process to be implemented even if the poll recount has not been resolved, deeming them as "separate and independent causes of action."

READ: Robredo camp confident of winning despite Marcos' call to nullify votes in 3 Mindanao provinces

"The results in the appreciation of the ballots in the pilot precincts are not mathematically insurmountable as to render the third cause of action moot and academic," it added, insisting that the 477,985 votes Robredo garnered in the provinces — versus Marcos' 169,160 votes — must be nullified.

Annulling the votes in these areas would effectively wipe out Robredo's lead of 263,473 votes during the May 2016 elections.

In particular, he wants experts to compare and/or examine the data of 82,316 registered voters in 508 precincts from the three provinces, alleging that over 40,000 signatures and thumbarks were not identical.

Marcos cited a report from Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan, who said that a technical review of the COMELEC Election Records and Statistics Department showed that 40,528 signatures and 3,295 thumbprints in the three provinces do not match the original specimen from voters' registration records during the 2016 polls.

'Boy who cried wolf'

Commenting on the PET's poll recount report, Robredo said that Marcos' election protest should already be dismissed, saying he "lost all credibility to claim that he was cheated" out of the vice presidency.

The sitting vice president said that all PET members agreed to the recount result which added 15,000 votes to her lead against the former senator and son of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

"Surely, there is sufficient factual and legal basis to conclude that 'for failure of protestant to make out his case, no basis exists to continue with the proceedings in this election contest,' and the Protest should be dismissed for protestant’s failure to make out a case using his pilot provinces," Robredo's camp said in a statement, citing Rule 65 which triggers the dismissal of an electoral protest.

READ: How will the VP recount change the country?

Robredo's lawyers pointed out that COMELEC, as well as the Senate Electoral Tribunal and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, observe the same rule.

There are less than three years left in the vice president's term. Robredo went on to sit as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs for 18 days in November upon President Rodrigo Duterte's invitation, only to be fired from the post.

There are less than three years left in the vice president's term. Robredo went on to sit as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs for 18 days in November upon President Rodrigo Duterte's invitation, only to be fired from the post.