MANILA - It’s all systems go for the revision of votes for former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ three pilot provinces for his poll protest against Vice-President Leni Robredo.
The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), accorded journalists an ocular tour of the Revision Hall, situated at the SC-Court of Appeals gymnasium, on Tuesday.
The tour was supervised by SC en banc and PET clerk of court Atty. Edgar Aricheta, PET ad hoc committee officers Ma. Carina Cunanan and Atty. Jose Lemuel Arenas, and SC Public Information Office chief Atty. Theodore Te.
The PET has retrieved around 1,400 ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, one of Marcos’ pilot provinces. The other two are Negros Oriental and Iloilo.
The PET explained that around 400 more ballot boxes from Camarines Sur are under the custody of bodies where there are pending poll cases, such as the Commission on Elections and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. These ballot boxes will be retrieved later for the revision.
As to the Negros Oriental and Iloilo ballot boxes, the PET assured the public these are properly accounted for in compliance with a temporary protection order (TPO) earlier issued by the tribunal. Due to storage area constraints, the ballot boxes of these other two Marcos protest pilot provinces will be retrieved at a later date.
Only around five security personnel are manning the gymnasium per shift, with CCTV complement; the PET says it is considering assigning more security guards to the area.
When the revision begins on April 2, 40 head revisors hired by the PET will begin their task of verifying the physical count of the ballots. Two revisors, one each from the Marcos and Robredo camps, will complement the PET revisor.
The PET is hiring 10 more revisors to bring the total number of its revisors to 50.
Objections, questions, claims by the parties will be recorded accordingly and the subject ballots marked, but no ruling shall be made by the revisors. Only the PET may rule on these collated issues.
The revision will run Mondays through Fridays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, with a 15-minute break at 10:00 am; one hour lunch break at 12:00 noon; and an afternoon break from 3:00 to 3:15 pm.
Revisors will not be allowed to bring anything to the revision tables, especially electronic gadgets. The media will also not be allowed at any time during the course of the revision.
Marcos lost to Robredo in the May 2016 vice-presidential race by a slim margin of 263,473 votes.
His election protest alleges that there was massive vote-buying, pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote counting machines, a script change in the transparency server that allegedly altered the results in the VP race, and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of vice-president.
Robredo has a pending counter-protest, also with the PET. There is no schedule yet for the Robredo protest revision of votes.