Ballot recount for Marcos-Robredo election protest set on March 19

MANILA, Philippines – After a heated week for the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and her rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the ballot recount for the electoral protest involving the two was scheduled on March 19.

Robredo's lawyer Bernadette Sardillo as well as Marcos' legal counsels Vic Rodriguez and George Garcia confirmed to Rappler that they had been briefed by the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), regarding the date of the start of the recount.

"There was a schedule given to us na March 19 [ang recount]. All 3 [provinces ang bibilangin]. No reso yet. Just a schedule from [the] briefing," Sardillo said in a text message on Thursday, February 8.

(There was a schedule given to us that the recount will begin on March 19. All 3 provinces will be counted. No resolution yet. Just a schedule from the briefing.)

Garcia from Marcos' camp echoed this, saying, "Confirmed po, March 19." 

Ballots to be recounted will include those from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental – the 3 pilot provinces Marcos had chosen for the initial recount.

Ballots retrieved from Camarines Sur have already been delivered to the SC-Court of Appeals Gymnasium in Ermita, Manila. The ballot retrieval schedules for Iloilo and Negros Oriental remain unclear.

The PET earlier ruled that the merit of the rest of Marcos' electoral protest against Robredo will be determined based on the results of the recount for the 3 pilot provinces.

Robredo only beat Marcos by 263,473 votes in the 2016 polls, leading the latter to allege cheating and file the electoral protest against her.

A word war erupted this week between both camps, with the former senator first daring the Vice President to withdraw "all and any pending motions" before the PET so the ballot recount could finally begin.

The Robredo camp initially dismissed Marcos' challenge, saying they had no pending motions, but lead counsel Romulo Macalintal eventually agreed to take it on.

The matter immediately turned into a media circus, however, after both the Robredo and Marcos camps whipped up separate documents indicating their intention to withdraw any motions delaying the electoral protest. 

The Marcos camp produced a "joint manifestation" signed by Marcos himself, while the Robredo camp produced a "joint motion" signed by Macalintal. Both camps refused to sign the other's document. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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