PET says revision of remaining ballots in VP recount to resume on January 28

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2019 06:15 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2019 08:18 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Amid contradictory claims regarding the supposed suspension of the recount for the vice-presidential race, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on Tuesday said it will continue the revision proceedings on the few ballot boxes left on Jan. 28, 2019.

In a statement, the PET said the revision of ballots was completed on Jan. 21, 2019 “except for a few ballot boxes, which were referred to the Tribunal for further action, and the wet or damaged ballots, where the Tribunal directed the Revision Committee (RC) to use the decrypted ballot images provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).”

“The revision proceedings for the remaining ballot boxes and decrypted ballot images will continue on January 28, 2019,” it added. “In the interim, the Tribunal shall prepare for the use of decrypted ballot images in the revision proceedings.”

Under Comelec rules, decrypted ballot images will be used in case physical ballots are not available.
 
SUSPENDED?

The statement was prompted by conflicting statements on the status of the VP recount.

In a text message to reporters Tuesday, lawyer Beng Sardillo from the Robredo camp said the revisors were advised on Monday that the revision will be suspended.

“PET did not give them any reason for the suspension,” she said.

Marcos’ lawyer, George Garcia, also said in a text message that the suspension was relayed “informally” during the revision day on Monday “when all the revisors were already there.” 

He added, no reasons were cited and the suspension is “until further notice.”

NO SUSPENSION

But sought for confirmation, at least two sources from the PET called the report of the supposed indefinite suspension of the VP recount “false” or “fake.” 

SC Spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said in a text message, following the release of the PET press statement, that there was no suspension.

Prior to the release of the PET statement however, a source from the PET said that the suspension was only for certain precincts, based on the deliberations of the SC en banc on Tuesday morning.
 
The SC sits as the PET in deciding electoral protests of presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Another source from the PET told ABS-CBN News that what happened was “technically not a suspension” and “more like a lack of ballots to be revised.”
 
The source said there are no more physical ballot boxes for revision and the break in the recount will be used to “train the revisors to conduct revision using the decrypted ballots” in the case of wet ballots.

According to the PET, Marcos’ electoral protest involves the revision of 5,417 clustered precincts from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental, which started last year.
 
After the revision, the PET said the next stage is the appreciation of ballots, which is part of the tribunal's initial determination of the grounds for the protest.
 
“Under Rule 65, the Tribunal shall determine, after an examination of the ballots and proof, and after making reasonable allowances and taking all circumstances into account, whether protestant Marcos will most probably fail to make out his case. If he will most probably fail to make out his case, the Tribunal may dismiss the protest without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in his protest,” it explained.
 
“If he will most probably make out his case, the Tribunal may move forward with the remaining provinces subject of the protest,” it added.