DUMAGUETE CITY – The retrieval of a total of 1,284 ballot boxes from different municipalities and cities in Negros Oriental was carried out by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal of the Supreme Court in connection with the electoral protest of losing candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. against incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.
Dumaguete City Election Officer, lawyer Gildu Agoncillo, said Wednesday afternoon that Negros Oriental is one of 20 protested provinces in the 2016 elections.
Records will show that in the province, Marcos Jr. lost heavily to Robredo, who garnered 255,000 votes as against his 66,000 votes — the biggest difference in terms of percentage throughout the country.
It is for this reason that of the three pilot provinces for the recount, Negros Oriental is third on the list, after Camarines Sur and Iloilo.
The recount of ballot boxes from 17 other provinces will depend on the results in the pilot provinces, Agoncillo said.
In the event of a dismissal of the complaint, there is no need to proceed with the recount of protested ballot boxes from the 17 provinces, according to Lawyer Emil Marañon III, legal counsel of Robredo who was in Dumaguete to observe the retrieval operation over the weekend until Tuesday.
According to Marañon, the recount of ballots in Camarines Sur has been completed, while it is still ongoing in Iloilo to be followed by Negros Oriental, where, Marcos claimed, widespread cheating and fraud allegedly happened during the 2016 elections.
The 1,284 ballot boxes from Negros Oriental will be loaded as soon as the inter-island vessel of 2Go shipping arrives next week bound for Manila.
The ballot boxes will be picked up at the port and will be brought to the Supreme Court warehouse in Ermita, Manila for safeguarding.
Robredo’s counsel is confident that the results of the recount will match with the results on election day up to the last vote, provided the correct threshold is used.
Marañon noted that electoral protests in the 2010, 2013, and even 2016 elections would show no discrepancy between the results of the recount and those on election day because the machines used were very accurate.
He said discrepancies were noted in Camarines Sur because the Supreme Court had applied a different standard. He said the high court should follow the threshold set by the Commission on Elections.
Robredo’s camp is confident the recount will prove that Negrenses “ay hindi mandaraya (are not cheaters) because this is what Marcos is trying to say to the people of Negros Oriental,” which is an insult to the people of this province who voted for her, Marañon said.
Dumaguete City treasurer Cristina Merced was on hand during the retrieval of the 122 ballot boxes from the city, when some minor issues were noted on the conditions of the same.
Robredo’s camp will file a formal motion before the Supreme Court regarding what happened on the first and second day of the retrieval operation of the ballot boxes in Negros Oriental to be transparent with the things that transpired during the transport and storage of the ballot boxes. Juancho Gallarde/PNA-northboundasia.com