VP poll recount starts Monday

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will start on Monday the recount of votes for the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

The place for the revision of votes for the Marcos-Robredo electoral protest will be at the gymnasium at the 5th Floor of the SC-Court of Appeals (CA) Building in Padre Faura, Manila.

The recount will be conducted until Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with two 15-minute breaks and a one-hour lunch break.

Lawyer Jose Lemuel Arenas, a PET ad hoc committee member, said the revision is the process of verifying the ballots, to recount the votes of the parties, and to record the objections or claims of the parties.

He said there were 5,418 clustered precincts that cover the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, which were chosen by Marcos as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities he cited in his poll protest.

Arenas said for each table, there will be three revisors – the head revisor (employee of PET), the protestant’s revisor and the protestee’s revisor.

The revisors will not be allowed to bring in their personal belongings, including their mobile phones, inside the venue. The PET has provided a locker for their belongings.

He noted that the time limit per ballot box with less than 300 votes will be 5.5 hours while for 300-700 votes will be 8.25 hours and for more than 700 votes will be 11 hours.

The tribunal is expecting some 213 personnel to come in per day during the recount. These include 60 employees of the tribunal, psychometricians, lawyers and representatives of both parties, and the revisors.

The revisors are part of the tribunal’s committee tasked to examine the contested ballots.

Arenas, said that the PET is currently housing some 1,400 ballot boxes from Camarines Sur.

Arenas said that other ballot boxes are currently with the Commission on Elections, due to storage issues.

Once the recount on the first 1,400 ballot boxes is done, the PET will receive the other ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Members of the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Police Security Protection Group and PET guards will secure the recount venue round-the-clock.

CCTVs were also installed on all four corners of the recount venue and the storage area.

Lawyer Ma. Carina Cunanan, another PET ad hoc committee member, said that the tribunal is expecting to augment 101 security personnel this coming week with more members of the PNP.

She added that the parties will not be allowed to bring in their security.

The PET said it still cannot determine when the recount will be finished.

The recount was initially scheduled in February, was later reset to March 19, and again moved to April 2.

Earlier, both camps agreed to withdraw all the motions they had filed before the PET to be able to proceed with the recount.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo 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.

In his preliminary conference briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Robredo filed her answer in August last year and also submitted a counter-protest, questioning the results from more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.

She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of the PET.

The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier this year, junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.

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. PNA-northboundasia.com