Robredo asks PET to disregard OSG comment on poll recount

MANILA — The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo filed a manifestation before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to disregard the comment of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on the shading threshold to determine the validity of votes in the ongoing recount on the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

In a 13-page manifestation dated July 13 but was released to media on Monday, Robredo, through her lawyer Romulo Macalintal, said the OSG comment should be disregarded as it is not privy to the threshold shading issue and that allowing its version of events on the shading threshold issue will “erode the very foundation of our democracy.”

Macalintal said the OSG had no basis when it issued a reckless conclusion that the application of the 50-percent threshold percentage does not disenfranchise the voters.

“Once more, in making this reckless conclusion, OSG has revealed to the Honorable Tribunal its lack of knowledge on the ongoing revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots,” Macalintal stressed.

While Macalintal admitted that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded voters to fully shade the oval beside the name of the candidates of their choice, he said there were voters who were not able to fully shade the ovals.

“In those instances where the ovals were not fully shaded but still met the 25-percent threshold percentage, the VCMs still read and counted the votes cast,” said Macalintal.

The camp of Robredo said the OSG must not be allowed to be used as a venue by losing candidates to disregard the sovereign will of the electorate by applying different rules from those adopted and used during elections by the poll body.

In its manifestation and motion, the OSG asked the PET to affirm its ruling last April, upholding the 50-percent shading threshold in determining the validity of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

The OSG argued that there is no basis for the High Court to grant Robredo’s motion.

“As the People’s Tribune, it is the Solicitor General’s duty to present to the Honorable Tribunal the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the State, notwithstanding the stance of the Comelec on the issue of whether the Honorable Tribunal correctly ruled that it has no basis to impose a 25 percent threshold in determining whether a vote is valid,” it said.

The OSG also sought an extension of the tribunal’s order to comment on behalf of the Comelec so it could study the issue and take the position of the PET.

In resolution dated April 10, the PET denied Robredo’s plea to direct the head revisors to apply the correct threshold percentage as set by the Comelec in the revision, recount and re-appreciation of the ballots, to expedite the proceedings for lack of merit.

Last April 19, Robredo filed a motion for reconsideration, asking the PET to set aside its April 10 resolution, denying her plea for the 25-percent threshold to be applied.

The threshold adopted by the Comelec is designed to scan every oval on the ballot and count as a valid vote those that contain appropriate marks based on pre-determined sharing threshold.

On June 29, 2016, Marcos filed the protest, claiming that Robredo’s camp cheated in the automated polls in May that year.

In his protest, Marcos contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clusters, covering 27 provinces and cities.

Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.

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