MANILA, Philippines – The legal counsel of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr countered the claim of Vice President Leni Robredo’s lawyer that Marcos was “ill-advised” over his allegations concerning the ballot images in the electoral protest.
Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez maintained that square marks in the ballot images from Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental that his client previously publicized should not be there in the first place. (READ: Ballot images show Robredo colluded with Comelec, Smartmatic – Marcos)
Marcos had claimed the squares enclosing the voters’ shaded marks in the ballot images led to undervotes for him while Robredo got points even from supposedly voided ballots.
“The existence of the square is an unlawful insertion and alteration of the digital image. If they did the insertion clandestinely, we wonder what other alterations they did to alter the digital results?” Rodriguez said in a statement on Tuesday, February 13.
“Weighed in the balance and found wanting, the excuses are so feeble and insulting to the intelligence of the Filipino electorate as it provides them too little too late. The squares should not be there because during the source code review, no boxes were shown. If ever, the boxes must have been added after the source code review, which is against the law,” he added.
The Vice President’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal held a press conference on Tuesday morning to explain the squares are merely among the new features of the ballot introduced in 2016. (READ: Marcos ‘ill-advised’ over claims vs ballot images in VP protest – Robredo camp)
It was the same explanation offered by election lawyer Emil Marañon III in his opinion piece previously published by Rappler. He was among the counsels previously consulted by the Vice President’s camp. (READ: OPINION: What Bongbong Marcos should understand about ballot images)
“They have trampled on the right of the Filipino people and deprived them of their duly elected vice president. Now two years on, they are continuing their web of lies even in the face of direct and solid evidence of rampant cheating,” said Rodriguez.
“This is the grandest and longest deception ever committed against the Filipino people,” he added.
Robredo defeated Marcos by just 263,473 votes during the 2016 elections, leading the latter to allege cheating and filing an electoral protest against her.
Ballot recount is set to begin on March 19.
Comelec briefing on new ballot features
According to Rodriguez, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had never properly explained the presence of these squares in its previous briefings for political parties and other candidates during the 2016 polls.
“I dare him (Macalintal) now to produce any briefing made by the Comelec on the presence of the squares because I have yet to meet anyone – be it a political party or candidate or Information Technology expert – who had ever been informed of the existence of squares on the ballot images. Either Atty. Macalintal is just being consistently untrue or he had a special briefing from Comelec exclusively for the then ruling Liberal Party,” said Rodriguez.
But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the new features of the ballot were consistently explained by the poll body to the candidates or their representatives through a roadshow on Smartmatic’s vote counting machine features held between 2015 and 2016.
“There was not one briefing, but rather multiple demonstrations as part of the VCM roadshow. With regard to ‘squares,’ I believe those were covered during [the] extensive source code review for political parties and other interested parties, held in La Salle, 2015-2016,” Jimenez said in a text message.
Jimenez is still double checking the attendance of the candidates’ representatives, including the Marcos camp, during the said VCM road show as of posting time. – Rappler.com