MANILA — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo claimed Wednesday that her lead over former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., her opponent in the 2016 elections, grew by 15,000 votes after an initial recount under his poll protest.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred its deliberation into the protest, following an initial recount of votes in 3 of 30 provinces where Marcos claimed he was cheated by Robredo.
"Meron kaming ebidensya, nadagdagan pa nga iyong boto namin, 15,000 votes... Sabi namin, dapat ma-dismiss na iyan," said Robredo's lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
(We have evidence that our votes even grew by 15,000 votes. We said that should be dismissed.)
Despite this supposed lead increase, there are speculations that the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will vote to continue with the recount of the remaining 27 provinces, said Macalintal.
"May mga bali-balita na mukhang kahit walang substantial recovery, itutuloy raw. Parang hindi ata tama iyan dahil sa ilalim ng rules, 'pag wala kang nakita sa 3 probinsya, idi-dismiss iyan," he told radio DZMM.
(There are rumors that despite the lack of substantial recovery by Marcos, they will continue the recount. That seems wrong because under the rules, when no anomaly is seen in the 3 pilot provinces, the protest should be dismissed.
The PET, he added, will set a dangerous precedent if it proceeds with the recount despite the supposed lead growth of Robredo.
"Kung sila ang magbabago ng rules, delikado iyan kasi mangyayari sa ibang korte, aba puwede palang ganoon edi magkakaroon ng discretion ang mga judges. Nand'yan na ang mga lakaran... sasabihin doon sa judge, 'Puwede naman pala iyan, pagbigyan mo na kami," he said.
(If they will change the rules, that will be dangerous because in lower courts, judges will then have discretion. There will be influence peddling, judges would be told, 'It's allowed after all, so just grant our request.')
The Robredo camp's claim of getting an additional 15,000 votes is "speculative", the PET earlier said. The body, however, has not released a copy of the report on the initial recount.
MARCOS 'STILL CONFIDENT': LAWYER
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by some 260,000 votes, remains confident that he will win the poll protest, said his spokesperson Vic Rodriguez.
"Hindi naman kami magfa-file ng election protest kung wala kaming nakitaang malawakang pandaraya... Kami po ay confident from the time that we filed the case na papabor po iyong magiging resulta nito kay Senador Bongbong Marcos, even up to this day," he said in a separate DZMM interview.
(We would not have filed an election protest if we didn't see widespread cheating. We are confident from the time that we filed the case that the result would favor former Senator Bongbong Marcos, even up to this day.)
He also denied that their camp sought the postponement of the deliberation.
"'Pag nag-i-en banc na po, bawal na hong pumasok ang kahit sino roon, mga mahistrado na lang po. Probably, baka may nagrequest doon na i-agenda ulit sa Oct. 15 para meron pang kaunting panahon pag-aralan," said Rodriguez.
"It is not in the best interest of Senator Bongbong Marcos na patuloy pang ma-delay itong election protest," he added.
(During an en banc session, no one else can enter but the magistrates. Probably someone there requested for the deliberation to be moved the the agenda for Oct. 15 so that there would be some time for them to study it. It is not in the best interest of former Senator Bongbong Marcos for the delay to continue.)
LONG WAY OFF
Whatever the court decides in its rescheduled deliberation on Oct. 15, Marcos' poll protest is still a long way off from resolution, said Macalintal.
"Kasi pagkatapos ng 27 probinsya ni Mr. Marcos, alalahanin ninyo na meron pa rin kaming 18 counter-protest, 18 probinsyang kino-contest," said the veteran lawyer.
(This is because after the 27 provinces of Mr. Marcos, remember that we also have 18 counter-protests covering 18 provinces.)
"Kahit anong sabihin sa October 15, mananatiling Vice President si Leni Robredo," he added.
(Whatever the court says on Oct. 15, Leni Robredo will remain as Vice President.)