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Tolentino’s poll protest vs De Lima advances

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By Leslie Ann G. Aquino

The decryption of ballot images in relation to the May 2016 election protest of Presidential Political Adviser Francis N. Tolentino against Senator Leila de Lima commenced yesterday at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) main office in Manila.

Tolentino placed 13th in the senatorial race in the May 2016 polls, behind De Lima; and the decryption is crucial in determining whether or not his poll protest may still change the results.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said that based on the estimate of their Election and Records Statistics Department (ERSD), the whole decryption process will take approximately one month.

“Tolentino’s protest calls into question a total of 283,280 ballots, from 597 clustered precincts located in 13 provinces all over the country,” Jimenez said in a statement.

“1,781 ballots from 3 clustered precincts – one from Akbar and two from Al Barka, both in the province of Basilan – are expected to be generated today,” said Jimenez.

The poll official explained that during the decryption, the decrypted ballot images, taken from SD cards duly submitted by Comelec field officers, will be printed. Representatives of both parties, the Comelec, and the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) will affix their initials on each page.

Jimenez said the printed and electronic (soft) copies of the ballot images will then be turned over to the SET, along with the printed hash codes that form part of the election audit trail.

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