Marcos' questions on election system integrity will prolong case – Macalintal
MANILA, Philippines – For Vice President Leni Robredo's election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, it will still take a while before the recount of ballots can begin.
The veteran lawyer said the issue raised by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr on the integrity of the automated election system must be resolved first before the recount proceeds.
"Napagkasunduan ng bawat panig na unang ireresolba ng Korte Suprema ay iyong sinasabi ni Mr Marcos na madaya iyong automated election system, na dinaya ng electronic machines iyong balota niya," Macalintal said in an interview on dzRH.
(Both parties agreed that the Supreme Court will first resolve Mr Marcos' accusation that the automated election system was rigged, that votes for him were tampered with in the electronic machines.)
Macalintal said this would take much time for the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), since there are a lot of issues to settle.
"Matagal po kasi ang unang pag-uusapan, mayroon bang integridad at kredibilidad iyong automated election system, iyong mga SD cards na iyan, iyong mga vote-counting machines na iyan. So iisa-isahin iyan," he said.
(That would take time because we have to first resolve the integrity and credibility of the automated election system, including the SD cards, the vote-counting machines. They will be assessed one by one.)
This was Marcos' first cause of action in his election protest. (READ: Marcos hopes ballot recount will start by September)
He accused the Liberal Party (LP) of electronic cheating following the surge in Robredo's votes during the unofficial canvassing, as well as the unauthorized script change in the system.
Since Marcos questioned the credibility of the whole elections, the PET included the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as a party to the case.
On Tuesday, July 11, both camps were given 5 days to comment on this issue and the other details included in the preliminary conference guidelines that the PET drafted.
Marcos' lawyer George Garcia said they would study this but stressed that it is against the procedures since the PET has no power over the Comelec. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
Meanwhile, Macalintal said they will file a motion to extend the payment deadline for Robredo's protest fee until there are results from the recount of the 3 pilot provinces Marcos has identified.
During the preliminary conference on Tuesday, the PET verbally agreed to the postponement of the July 14 deadline for the remaining P7 million Robredo has to pay. She paid the first installment of P8 million last May.
"Hahakutin pa muna iyong pinoprotestang balota ni Marcos. So hindi pa para buksan iyong protest ni Ma'am Leni. Kasi ang mangyayari diyan, titingnan muna ng tribunal iyong tatlong probinsya na pilot provinces," said Macalintal.
(They will still gather Marcos' contested ballots, so Ma'am Leni's counter-protest won't be tackled yet. What will happen there is the tribunal will first look into the 3 pilot provinces.)
"Kung walang makikita doon, idi-dismiss iyong protesta ni Mr Marcos," he added. (If they don't find anything irregular there, they will dismiss Mr Marcos' protest.)
Marcos named the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental as the areas where the ballots for the initial recount will be pulled out.
Garcia claimed that these provinces have the highest incidences of undervoting. (READ: Bongbong vs Leni: 2016 'election fingerprints' in possible recount areas)
"There were 3.919 million undervotes or missing votes. 1.4 million are for the President. In the 3 provinces we are contesting, if we are not mistaken, there were 500,000 undervotes," he said.
"The only way to identify where the 3.9 million votes are is to open the ballots." – Rappler.com