Robredo’s legal team checks Iloilo ballot conditions

MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo’s legal team observed on Tuesday the retrieval of the ballot boxes from Iloilo to Manila in preparation for the vote recount in line with the poll protest of defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

In a radio interview, lawyer Emil Marañon III said that their team went to Iloilo to ensure the security of the retrieval of the ballot boxes in the area.

Marañon said that the Supreme Court instructed earlier the retrieval of ballot boxes in Iloilo province in addition to those in Iloilo City.

“Yesterday [Monday], we called the attention of the Supreme Court…we raised the fact that actually, Iloilo City is a highly-urbanized city and therefore, it is not part of the province of Iloilo. So, I think the Supreme Court considered that…I think they already gave an order to their representatives not to retrieve the City of Iloilo so that’s around 430 ballot boxes,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Marañon explained that 515 ballot boxes were retrieved on Monday and around 400 ballot boxes are expected on Tuesday.

Robredo’s legal team raised concern over the condition of the ballot boxes as they are placed into a container van, saying some ballot boxes were drenched in water and that the ballots inside got wet.

“We are checking whether the seals are whole, wet or not. Like yesterday [Monday] we noted, for example in the town of Oton, we noticed while waiting actually for accounting, it suddenly rained while the Supreme Court is checking. So there were ballot boxes actually drenched in water — there were ballots which got wet inside,” he said.

Marañon added they were unable to check the real condition of the ballot boxes inside as they were sealed.

“We discovered that in the town of Miag-ao there were damaged ballot boxes and the insides are wet. In July 2017, the Typhoon Gorio affected Iloilo. So water entered the storage, apparently, of the town of Miag-ao. The election officer there said they already reported this to the main office in Manila way back September 2017,” he said.

Apart from avoiding being surprised by the condition of the ballot boxes that will be recounted, Marañon said their team do not want the public to be misled by any press release stunt from the camp the former senator.

“Just like our experience in Camarines Sur, Bongbong Marcos suddenly used the damages and wet ballots as PR stunt. Now, we are actually disclosing it in advance. We are saying there are ballot boxes that were damaged, wet and all, and there’s nothing irregular about it as these are natural occurrences beyond the control of Comelec and treasurers of different towns,” he said.

Marañon clarified that the votes in the ballots would match those that were counted by the Smartmatic machines with regard to the vice presidential race if the Supreme Court will use the right threshold for the recount proceedings.

“We’re very confident that the results on the election day and the recount will match. So we have to note that we have a pending Motion for Reconsideration before the Supreme Court because the standard used in 2016 elections is 25 percent, meaning, if you shade 25 percent of the oval, that is considered a valid vote. However, in the recount, the Supreme Court increased it into 50 percent,” he said.

“If the standards are different, the votes for Vice President Leni Robredo will decrease. If the Supreme Court gives back to the 25 percent threshold, then we are very, very confident that the election day recount would match up to the last vote in the recount result,” he added.

During the 2016 elections, Robredo won in Iloilo province with total votes of 573,829 against Marcos who garnered 94,411 votes. The Vice President also won in Iloilo City with 137,662 votes against 33,778 votes of Marcos. Ma. Teresa Montemayor/