By Rey Panaligan
Revisors of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on Tuesday uncovered that several ballot boxes from Balatan town in Camarines Sur did not contain voters’ receipts which, they claimed, are election documents required to be part of the documents inside the ballot boxes.
The revisors, who requested anonymity because of the confidential nature of their work in the PET, said the absence of the voters’ receipts “could mean that the votes cast by the voters are not the results transmitted by the vote counting machines” (VCMs).
“Their absence in some of the ballot boxes is an indication that they were removed or really not included because the votes there will not tally with the machine count,” they said.
They added that the non-inclusion of the voters’ receipts was a violation of the PET’s directive for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to include the voters’ receipts in the ballot boxes for turnover to the tribunal.
Comments from either of the camps in the protest could not be secured because of the gag order issued against the contending parties by the PET on the issue.
The manual recount and revision of ballots in the three provinces identified by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos in his election protest filed against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo entered its second week Tuesday at the Supreme Court-Court of Appeals gymnasium in Manila.
Aside from the votes in Camarines Sur, ballots in Iloilo and Negros Oriental will also be manually recounted and revised for the PET to determine if there would be a need to proceed with Marcos’ election protest.
The proceedings are being conducted behind closed doors as ordered by the PET, which is composed of all SC justices. Three members of the PET ad hoc committee appointed by the SC, sitting as PET, are supervising the proceedings.
Marcos protested the results in 132,446 precincts in 27 provinces and cities. He identified the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental with 1,400 ballot boxes in 5,418 clustered precincts for the initial phase of recount and revision.
Based on election results, Robredo was declared winner in the vice presidential election with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than the 14,155,344 votes garnered by Marcos.
Robredo also filed a counter-protest against Marcos. The two cases had been consolidated by the PET.
Last week at the start of the manual recount and revision, PET revisors reportedly found several unused or excess ballots which had been pre-shaded in favor of Robredo and other candidates.
They said the pre-shaded unused or excess ballots were unearthed from the ballot boxes retrieved from the municipality of Baao in Camarines Sur. But they did not reveal how many shaded unused and excess ballots were taken from how many ballot boxes.
They also said that they found several ballots that were cut-into-half but were found in the valid ballots with the Robredo votes. A cut-into-half ballot means it was unused or excess, they said.
Marcos’ camp said the pre-shaded ballots could be used as evidence of fraud in the 2016 elections in Baao town.
But Robredo’s camp said: “These could be rejected ballots that were mistakenly placed inside the envelope for unused ballots. Based on experience – due to the conditions inside the precincts – mistakes happen.”
Robredo’s lawyer Bernadette Sardillo questioned the leakage of the information.
On the first day of the manual recount and revision, Marcos said that 38 ballot boxes from Bato town in Camarines Sur have no audit logs while four ballot boxes were wet.
Robredo’s camp had said that the absence of audit logs and the wet ballots do not indicate fraud.
On the second day, four of the 40 head revisors of PET resigned.
The developments triggered apprehensions on delays in the manual recount and revision of ballots in the three provinces.