MANILA — The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Tuesday accepted the challenge of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to withdraw all the motions they had filed in connection with the latter’s electoral protest pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to be able to proceed with the recount.
“We accept the challenge of Mr. Marcos and his lawyer to sign a joint motion to withdraw any and all pending motions and incidents at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal which may cause the delay of the recount of ballots from the pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental,” Romulo Macalintal, Robredo lead counsel said in a statement
“I am inviting Mr. Marcos and his lawyer tomorrow (Wednesday) at 9 a.m. to sign a joint motion. This is to confirm that we are not causing the delay in the recount of ballots,” Macalintal added.
“It is Mr. Marcos’ raising of baseless allegations and irrelevant issues that is causing the delay in the recount,” he noted.
Petitioner Marcos said he was also ready to withdraw his motions so as to stop the bickering from both camps.
“To remove all of these accusations flying back and forth I reiterate my challenge withdraw all your motions that could serve to delay the recount, I will withdraw all my motions that has been pending para wala ng (so that there will be no) outstanding issues, wala nang (no) instances na kailangan pang pag-aralan ng (that needs to be studied by the) Tribunal, at pupuntahan na natin ang pagbubukas ng balota at ang pagbilang ng balota (so that we can proceed to the opening and counting of the ballots),” Marcos said in a press conference last January 29 in Manila.
“That has been my contention since May 10 of 2016 until now. It has been the same, I have been consistent, I reissue the challenge to Mrs. Robredo, withdraw all your motions, I will withdraw all of mine and let us proceed with the recount,” the former legislator added.
Marcos issued the challenged to stop the “delaying” issues being thrown by both camps to each other.
At the same time, the vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 polls bared “solid and incontrovertible” evidence of massive fraud that transpired during the national and local elections held nearly two years ago.
Marcos questioned the presence of square shapes in the ballot images instead of the oval shapes which voters shaded for their choice of candidates.
“When we voted, we had the oval shapes. How come in the ballot images, the ovals are gone and instead we have the squares. What does this mean?” he said.
He added, “(w)e could see based on the election results summary that the squares indicated the candidates that were voted upon. But this is a new feature that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic added in the system and I had been told they did not inform the candidates of the presence of this feature in the images.”
But Robredo slammed Marcos’ claims that there were “massive frauds” that transpired in the May 2016 elections.
“Itong mga sinasabi niyang ito ay nakakatawa, (His remarks are funny) laughing matters as far as I am concerned. Ito iyong tinatawag na (This is what you call) ‘this made me laugh,’ sabi nga (as they say). If laughter is the best medicine, then we can consider it the best medicine for us for the day,” Macalintal said in a press conference on January 30.
“The excited and hysterical claim of (Marcos) and his spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez that they allegedly uncovered solid and inconvertible evidence of massive fraud that transpired in the 2016 elections’ based on their own copies of alleged ballot images used in the said election, is highly ridiculous if not outright frivolous,” the lawyer added.
Macalintal said Marcos’ claims of discrepancies in the hundreds of decrypted ballot images from Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental only showed that the latter’s protest “is facing its dismissal.”
“He has no evidence at all. That is why he is now using evidence outside the election protest that he filed sa Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET),” he said.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.
He sought the annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces – Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.
In his preliminary conference briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.
She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.
The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier last year, junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.
Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes. (PNA) By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan