MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The legal team of Vice President Leni Robredo has filed a manifestation with the Supreme Court (SC) accusing a revisor of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr of using a prohibited item during the ongoing electoral protest recount.
On Friday, June 22, Robredo’s lawyers, Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo, gave reporters a copy of their manifestation of grave concern filed with the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Wednesday, June 20.
The Robredo camp accused Marcos’ revisor Nestor Borromeo of using a plastic magnifying lens at the revision area at the 5th floor gymnasium of the SC-Court of Appeals building in Padre Faura, Manila, at around 9:50 am on June 14.
Revisors are the people in charge of recounting and assessing which ballots should be considered as valid votes for the candidates involved in an electoral protest.
In the vice-presidential election case, each table in the revision site represents each committee, which is headed by a revisor that the PET hired. Two revisors from the Marcos and Robredo parties join the independent head revisor.
The PET had previously told both the Marcos and Robredo camps that only papers may be allowed inside the revision area. Magnifying lens and even writing materials are among the prohibited items.
In a statement on Sunday, June 24, Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said that their revisor was only using the magnifying glass for improved sight.
“The people on the revision floor were well aware that the plastic child’s magnifier was being used and never complained. Why should they? Some revisors wear eyeglasses so they can see better. Nestor Borromeo opted to use a child’s plastic magnifying glass. What difference will this make on the recounting of votes?” Rodriguez said.
The Robredo camp alleged, however, that Borromeo used the magnifying lens to “stray more valid ballots” for Robredo. A stray ballot means an invalid vote. (READ: FACT CHECK: No results yet in ongoing 2016 VP election recount)
“Worse, when confronted, Mr Borromeo said that he was instructed to stray more valid ballots for protestee Maria Leonor G. Robredo (hereafter ‘Robredo’ for brevity) even after the Head Revisor of the Honorable Tribunal has segregated the ballots,” said Macalintal and Sardillo.
It was not clear in Robredo’s manifestation how a magnifying glass could be and is used to stray ballots.
Rodriguez said the Robredo camp is only trying to “disrupt” the procedure.
“We will not allow the election protest to be ‘disrupted ‘ by her desperate, childish, and obvious attempts to delay, delay, and delay the recount,” Rodriguez said.
Robredo’s lawyers appealed to the High Court that both parties must observe the rules laid down by the tribunal, including those on prohibited items.
The veteran election lawyers told the High Court both parties must observe the rules laid down by the tribunal.
“In short, the parties, counsels, and representatives must still observe proper decorum and comply with the rules of the Honorable Tribunal during the revision, recount, and re-appreciation of ballots,” Macalintal and Sardillo said.
Another Marcos revisor with ‘unruly conduct’?
In a separate statement on Friday, Robredo’s legal counsels said this was the second time a Marcos revisor has been reported for “unruly conduct” inside the revision area.
Macalintal and Sardillo said the PET had admonished Marcos party revisor and lawyer Joan Padilla in a resolution on April 24 because she had approached every PET head revisor and “instructed them not to counter-check the votes acquired by both parties in the election returns.”
Robredo’s lawyers said the PET told Padilla “not to disrupt the revision process in general.”
Rodriguez said, “The blatant attempts of Mrs. Robredo to suppress the truth regarding the manual recount of votes have become more desperate.”
Both camps had been warned by the Supreme Court en banc to observe sub judice; they have also been issued a show cause order.
The results of the ballot recount in the 3 pilot provinces will determine if the rest of Marcos’ electoral protest against the Vice President has any merit.
For now, both camps are waiting for the PET’s decision on the 50% ballot shading threshold in the recount. Robredo is appealing the PET to use the 25% shading threshold instead, as it was the one set forth by the Commission on Elections in the 2016 polls.
Here is the Robredo camp’s full manifestation: