MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo doubts the veracity of the ballot images that her rival, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, had publicized to accuse her of alleged collusion with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, on Tuesday, January 30, tagged Marcos' latest allegations against his client as "highly ridiculous if not outright frivolous." (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)
The veteran election lawyer explained that if Marcos truly had in his possession "hundreds upon hundreds" of ballot images with "questionable" marks, he should be probed by either the Comelec or the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
"Knowing the propensity of election losers in our country in filing all sorts of complaints in open display of unwillingness to accept defeat, they could have used such alleged questionable feature of the ballots in filing their election protest," said Macalintal in a statement.
"The best evidence to prove if 'hundreds upon hundreds' of ballots contained the questionable features raised by Marcos are the copies in the custody of the PET and not the self-serving copies of Marcos," he added.
Macalintal also pointed out that none of Marcos' poll watchers had raised the issue of questionable ballots to support the former senator's new claims.
The day before, Marcos presented several copies of ballot images he obtained from 12 towns in Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental containing squares enclosing the voters' shaded marks beside the candidates whom they voted for.
The defeated vice presidential bet said these squares should not be present in the ballot images. He claimed these "questionable" marks pointed to conspiracy by Robredo, the Comelec, and Smartmatic, the company that manufactured the vote-counting machines (VCMs).
A ballot image is captured once a ballot enters the VCM on election day. The PET allowed both the Marcos and Robredo camps to gain access to its soft copies.
Marcos said his camp had started receiving the soft copies, but the Robredo camp said it had received none so far. Marcos also hit the PET for not allowing him to have hard copies of all election data in his electoral protest. (READ: Bongbong Marcos accuses PET of 'unfair treatment')
"We feel that Marcos is afraid to know the real truth of the results of the election [and] that the recount of the ballots will only confirm the results as reflected in the election returns and certificates of canvass. Hence, this unfounded and unmeritorious claim of 'discrepancies' in the ballot images which should have been directed to the Comelec," said Macalintal.
He then challenged Marcos to "immediately proceed" with the recount – set to begin in February – "instead of airing these baseless and frivolous accusations intended to destroy the integrity of the past election for his own personal benefit." – Rappler.com