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Women’s group adds voice to manual vote count issue

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By Raymund Antonio

Awardees of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) have joined the call for the Supreme Court to apply the 25-percent threshold for the ballot shading in the recount, which it rejected in an earlier ruling.

The women expressed their “grave concern” over the “injustices” at the ongoing vote recount of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal for the vice presidency.

(Towns Foundation / MANILA BULLETIN)

(Towns Foundation / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We believe that indiscriminately and arbitrarily changing the rules in the middle of the game is tantamount to stealing the votes of the Filipino people,” TOWNS said in a statement.

They appealed to the Supreme Court, acting as PET, in the wake of its decision to follow the 50-percent threshold that was applied by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the 2010 elections.

The PET cited Comelec Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9164.

Under Rule 15, Section 6 of the resolution, it stated that any shading less than 50 percent shall not be considered a valid vote.

But TOWNS argued that a resolution issued by Comelec en banc on Sept. 16, 2016 “confirmed the rules used by vote counting machines during the 2016 national and local elections.”

This was the implementation of the 25 percent threshold percentage for the 2016 polls.

A shading threshold is the allowed amount of shade inside the oval located adjacent to a candidate’s name in the ballot used for automated elections.

“It is just fair to use the same parameters in the present manual recount,” they said.

A statement from TOWNS said it came as a “complete shock” to them when the PET decided to follow the 50-percent threshold in the recount, contrary to the Comelec resolution.

“This is not consistent with the rules used during the 2016 elections. We want to have our voices heard,” the group said.

The women asked the PET to “respect justice and fair play and protect the votes of the ordinary Filipino by rescinding its new rule.”

Members of TOWNS were the latest to join the mounting calls for the SC to uphold the 25-percent threshold used in the 2016 polls.

Just recently, supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo submitted to the high tribunal a petition that was able to gather 10,000 signatures from Camarines Sur in support of her plea to lower the threshold percentage.

Her other supporters also launched a hashtag #LeaveOurShadesAlone aimed at the SC on social media as a protest against its ruling.

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