By Raymund Antonio
In less than a year, the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has finished with the ballot revision and recount for the 2016 vice presidential race.
Vice President Leni Robredo’s lead lawyer Romulo Macalintal, as well as co-counsel Ma. Bernadette Sardillo, confirmed this when asked about the status of the recount of votes that started in April 2018.
Ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental have been recounted by PET after former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. chose them as the three pilot provinces for his election protest against Robredo.
The result of the initial ballot recount, which covers 5,418 clustered precincts from these provinces, will determine if the rest of Marcos’ case has merit.
“We have already finished the recount or revision of ballots from the three pilot provinces of Mr. Marcos. Those ballots, which were properly kept when they were retrieved by the PET had already been revised and recounted,” he said.
Sardillo said the PET is just finalizing the result of the recount, with the ongoing review of the decrypted ballot images that were used in counting votes.
The PET had to use the ballot images for the recount of the damaged or wet ballots from 120 clustered precincts, she noted.
Robredo’s lawyers claimed Marcos was not able to obtain a “substantial recovery” of votes after the recount confirmed the results as counted by the vote-counting machines.
“We are happy with the results because we could not see any recovery made by Mr. Marcos from the election protest. The physical count of the ballots tallied with the count generated from the VCMs. The results have not changed,” said Macalintal.
“As a matter of fact, if there were substantial recoveries made by Mr. Marcos, he would not even attempt for us to [have] another remedy—the remedy of a technical examination,” he pointed out.
The PET has not announced or released anything official yet about the results.
However, the Robredo camp mentioned in its January 14 counter-manifestation before the PET the results of ballot recount in Iloilo province.
The physical count showed that Robredo had 120,855 votes from 11 municipalities in Iloilo compared to the 120,869 votes in the election returns or just a difference of 14 votes.
Marcos, on the other hand, lost 22 votes as a result of the recount.
The lawyers noted that Robredo benefited from the September 2018 ruling of the PET that upheld the 25-percent shading threshold in counting votes.
While the 50-percent threshold was still applied, the Vice President lost 11,016 votes in Iloilo while Marcos only lost 1,204 votes.