MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The vote recount for the electoral protest filed against Vice President Leni Robredo kicked off with the retrieval of ballot boxes from her home province Camarines Sur on Tuesday, January 23.
Camarines Sur is one of the 3 pilot provinces defeated vice presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr has chosen where initial ballot recount will be held. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
The Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), said the merit of Marcos’ electoral protest will depend upon the results of the recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. (READ: SC defers action again on forensic exam of ARMM poll data in VP protest)
Ballot boxes from Pasacao and Libmanan started arriving at the provincial capitol in Pili as early as 8:15 am. They were received by the PET Retrieval Team, who will then bring the ballot boxes to the SC-Court of Appeals Gymnasium in Ermita, Manila for the recount.
Apart from Pasacao and Libmanan, ballots boxes from Cabusao, Del Gallego, Gainza, Sipocot, Lupi, Milaor, Minalabac, Pamplona, Ragay, and San Fernando were delivered to the PET Retrieval Team by Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by OVP
Robredo's lawyer Bernadette Sardillo watched as municipal treasurers and local election officers deliver the ballot boxes to the capitol.
Photo by OVP
The ballot retrieval process in Camarines Sur will last from Tuesday until Friday, January 26 following this schedule:
Once all ballot boxes from the 3 pilot provinces are transmitted to Manila, the ballot recount will officially begin in February. The PET is yet to release the retrieval schedules for Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo’s camp is undaunted despite the looming start of the recount.
“Inaasahan [naming] mapatutunayan ng muling pagbilang ng balota ang pagkapanalo ni Vice President Leni Robredo (We are expecting the ballot recount will prove the victory of Vice President Leni Robedo),” Sardillo told Bombo Radyo Naga on Monday, January 22.
Robredo’s legal counsel said the ballot recount will “vindicate” the Vice President from the “baseless accusation” of Marcos that she and the Liberal Party had cheated in the 2016 polls.
“Pakiusap lang po namin sa mga tagasuporta rito sa Camarines Sur na tuluy-tuloy ang pagbabantay sa proseso ng protesta (We are asking our supporters here in Camarines Sur to continue guarding the process of the protest),” said Sardillo.
Photo by OVP
According to the lawyer, the PET already granted Robredo’s request that both camps be allowed to send representatives to watch over the ballot retrieval in the 3 pilot provinces.
Despite developments in his electoral protest, Marcos has recently been slamming the PET for its alleged “unfair treatment” of him.
He zeroed in on Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, to whom the electoral protest was raffled off, for allegedly being biased in favor of Robredo. (READ: PET ruling 'confirmation of bias' vs Bongbong Marcos, says lawyer)
Caguioa is an appointee of LP chairman emeritus and former president Benigno Aquino III, who was also the justice’s classmate at the Ateneo de Manila University. – Rappler.com