Robredo widens lead over Marcos in initial poll recount – PET

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 18)— Vice President Leni Robredo’s lead over former Senator Bongbong Marcos has increased after an initial recount in the pilot provinces in the ongoing poll protest, the Supreme Court (SC) said in a resolution released Friday.

The high court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), revealed that Robredo’s lead grew by around 15,000 votes after a recount of ballots from the 5,415 clustered precincts in Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

“Based on the final tally after revision and appreciation of the votes in the pilot provinces, protestee Robredo maintained, as in fact she increased, her lead with 14,436,337 votes over protestant Marcos who obtained 14,157,771 votes,” the PET said in its report.

“After the revision and appreciation, the lead of protestee Robredo increased from 263,473 to 278,566.”

Marcos lodged an electoral protest against Robredo on June 30, 2016, questioning the results of the May 2016 presidential polls. Robredo was proclaimed vice president after clinching a lead of 263,473 votes against Marcos. The recount in the three pilot provinces began in April 2018.

Justices Benjamin Caguioa and Antonio Carpio, who both voted to dismiss Marcos’ poll protest, cited this development in their dissenting opinions.

Carpio said there is no basis to continue with the case proceedings as Marcos “failed to make out his case.”

The sentiment was echoed by Caguioa, who stressed that the tribunal “invested countless number of hours” in the revision and appreciation of ballots, when the case should have been dismissed following Rule 65 of the PET Rules.

Rule 65 says, "If upon examination of such ballots and proof, and after making reasonable allowances, the Tribunal is convinced that, taking all circumstances into account, the protestant or counter-protestant will most probably fail to make out his case, the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.

"Undoubtedly, protestant failed to make out his case. Why not apply Rule 65 now?" Caguioa said in his dissenting opinion.

The PET earlier this week did not vote on Marcos’ poll protest. The tribunal instead ordered the release of the committee report and requested for the camps’ comments.

Robredo’s camp welcomed the development, saying it has proven the Vice President's victory in the 2016 elections.

In response to the dissenting opinions, Marcos' camp stressed that majority of the tribunal still voted not to junk the case. It also claimed Robredo's celebration prior to the resolution's release was a product of advance information" the Vice President's camp received from a "highly placed source."

The accusation was slammed by the Robredo's camp, who stressed that the data was solely based from their representatives' records.

"Nag-compute lang kami (we just did the math). No “special info” required," Vice Presidential Spokesman Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.

CNN Philippines' Alyssa Rola and Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.