REVISORS conducting a recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race have uncovered another poll irregularity—missing voters receipts from several ballot boxes from Balatan town in Camarines Sur, the home province of Vice President Leni Robredo.
Requesting anonymity for lack of authority to speak for the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, an insider revealed that this irregularity could mean that the votes cast by the voters are not the results transmitted by the vote counting machines.
The source said the missing voters’ receipt could raise serious concerns because the said election material is required by law to be part of the documents to be included in the ballot boxes.
“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,” the source added.
The source said the absence of voter’s receipts could be serious affront to the Supreme Court, which ordered the Comelec to include the voter’s receipts in the election system.
During the first week of recount, several wet ballot boxes were found from Bato and Baao towns as well as Naga City in Camarines Sur.
Some unused or excess ballots with shaded votes for Robredo and ballots cut into half were also discovered.
Audit logs from clustered precincts in Bato town were also found to be missing.
The camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claimed that these discoveries could be proof of election fraud. But Robredo’s lawyer alleged that the former senator was only trying to taint the results of the recount and twisting the developments to favor his protest.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in the May 2016 national polls.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities. He sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental covering a total of 5,418 clustered precincts.
Robredo filed her answer in August 2016 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.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.
Ilocos Norte Gov Imee Marcos, meanwhile, assailed Robredo for maligning her province in saying that it consistently ranks in the Top 20 poorest provinces since 2004 although it belongs to those with the highest dynastic share in the 2016 election.
“Was it a simple case of misreading an official data, or an intentional political overture against her political rivals just to score points against them,” the governor said.
In her speech at the London School of Economics last Friday, Robredo said that based on a recent study by the Ateneo School of Government, the 10 provinces with the highest dynastic share in the 2016 election consistently rank in the Top 20 poorest provinces since 2004. These are Maguindanao, Sulu and Lanao del Sur in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Batangas and Rizal in Calabarzon region; Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon; and Pangasinan and Ilocos Norte in Ilocos region.
Marcos, however, said the provinces that Robredo named were at the top 20 richest ones based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
“She can easily check her data with experts, especially government agencies like the National Economic and Development Authority or the Philippine Statistics Authority if she wants a more accurate readings on the state of poverty in the provinces,” Marcos said.
“For the record, Ilocos Norte has been one of the provinces with the lowest poverty incidence estimates in the past decade and not one among the top 20 poorest provinces,” she added. With Macon Ramos-Araneta