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Initial recount in VP protest completed
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Initial recount in VP protest completed

MANILA, Philippines, September 11 ------ The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has completed the recount and revision of ballots from three pilot provinces mentioned in the poll protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo. SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka yesterday said the PET has completed the recount and revision on the three pilot provinces – Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur – that covered 5,415 election precincts, but clarified that the tribunal has not yet taken any action on the report.

“(There is) no decision on the case. There was just a report submitted by SC Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa to the tribunal with respect to the revision and recount of the ballots in 5,415 election precincts in three test provinces,” Hosaka said. With the submission of the report, the SC official added that PET members “would have to consider it, deliberate on the report of Justice Caguioa with respect to the three pilot provinces.” Caguioa, the member-in-charge handling the poll protest filed by Marcos against Robredo, submitted the report last Monday.

Romy Macalintal, Robredo’s lawyer, said they are considering asking for a copy of the report submitted by Caguioa to the tribunal. Macalintal believes that while the recommendations of the hearing commissioners would be “very persuasive,” being the ones who examined the ballots, their findings should be respected whatever they may be. He is not discounting, though, the possibility that there might have been error in the findings or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the hearing commissioners in making a conclusion on their revision and recount of ballots.

Marcos filed the electoral protest in June 2016 to contest Robredo’s lead of a little over 260,000 votes, the closest vice presidential race in recent memory. Under PET rules, they need to count the votes in the three pilot provinces. They have also brought in revisors and three commissioners to go through the clustered ballot boxes from the 2016 elections. Once it is seen that there is a big discrepancy between the official tally with the figures from the revision, the PET would expand the coverage of recount of votes to 27 other provinces covering 30,000 polling precincts.