THE recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race hit a snag anew after both camps of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo clashed over the excess ballots that had shaded votes for the latter.
During the 13th day of the revision being supervised by the Supreme Court, acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, revisors from the Robredo and Marcos camps engaged in a heated argument that led to a delay in the proceedings, PET insiders revealed.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the disagreement begun when more unused or excess ballots with shaded votes for Robredo were found in the clustered precincts from the town of Buhi, Camarines Sur.
The sources said the revisors from the Robredo camp claimed the excess ballots with shaded votes for her in Buhi town.
“The revisors of Marcos, of course, opposed the moves because they are excess ballots or stray ballots. They insisted that those ballots shaded for Robredo are proof of pre-shading or cheating during the elections,” one of the source said.
“Emotions ran high and there was really tension in the venue,” the source added.
Because of this, the revision of the affected precincts did not push through and the unused or excess ballots with shaded votes for Robredo were set aside until the PET settles the issue.
This was the second time the recount has hit a delay. On the second day of the recount that started on April 2, four of the 40 head revisors have resigned from their duties for undisclosed reasons.
Meanwhile, insiders also revealed that the head revisors tapped by the PET advised the opposing parties to reconcile the disparity in the election returns and the physical count after it was found that the figures in the election results did not match with the physical count of the ballots.
The sources revealed Robredo’s votes in some precincts exceeded the number of actual voters.
“This is highly irregular and disturbing because revisors are not supposed to reconcile the figures but to find out if the results in the ER match with the physical count,” the source said.
The head revisors also reportedly told both camps not to include the number of undervotes and over-votes in the recount for no apparent reason.
“This is also unacceptable because all the entries in the ballots and ballot boxes with respect to the VP election protest should be reported and put on record,” the source said.
Undervotes occur when voters fail to vote for anyone in a position while overvotes happen when voters select more than the required number of candidates in any position.
Earlier, it was found that some 5,000 votes for Robredo have been invalidated after two weeks of recount in her home province, Camarines Sur.
The reduction of votes for the Vice President was a result of the PET ruling last week, which denied her motion asking the tribunal to count one-fourth shaded votes in the ongoing recount, supposedly pursuant to the threshold set by the Commission on Elections.
During the first two weeks of recount, several irregularities were also raised over the discovery of wet ballot boxes, unused or excess ballots with shaded votes for Robredo, missing audit logs and missing voters’ receipts in towns of Bato, Baao, Balatan, Bula and Sagñay in Camarines Sur.
The camp of Marcos claimed 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 as well as 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.