TOWNS awardees urge PET: Apply 25% shading threshold in VP poll protest

Mara Cepeda
TOWNS awardees urge PET: Apply 25% shading threshold in VP poll protest
'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,' say The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service awardees

MANILA, Philippines – Awardees of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) are urging the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to apply the 25% shading threshold in the ongoing ballot recount in the vice presidential electoral protest.

Sixty TOWNS awardees expressed their “grave concern over the injustice that is currently happening at the recount of votes for the vice presidency.”

“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 sent to reporters on Wednesday, May 16. 

The women are referring to the PET’s decision to junk Robredo’s petition to count as valid votes ballot ovals that are shaded by one-fourth or 25%.

Instead, the SC set the shading threshold at 50%, which means only the ballot ovals that are at least half-shaded will be considered.

Robredo has since filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution set the shading threshold at only one-fourth of the ovals for the 2016 polls. (READ: Comelec resolution disproves SC claim on ballot shading)

This was the same argument by TOWNS in their statement. 

“We appeal to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to refer to the latest resolution penned by the Commission on Elections en banc dated September 6, 2016. It confirmed the rules used by vte counting machines during the 2016 national and local elections,” said TOWNS.

The women said they were in a “complete shock” when the PET decided to follow the 50% shading threshold, contrary to the Comelec resolution.

“We want to have our voices heard. We ask the PET to respect justice and fair play and protect the votes of the ordinary Filipino by rescinding its new rule that sets a threshold of 50% shading,” said TOWNS.

The election case against Vice President Leni Robredo was filed by her rival, ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The names of TOWNS members who signed the statement and their full statement are found below: 

– Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.