REVISORS conducting a manual recount of votes in the vice presidential race in 2016 between former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo have found some ballots from the latter’s hometown partially burned.
On Monday, the recount being conducted inside the gymnasium on the fifth floor of the SC-Court of Appeals Building came to a halt at 2 p.m., after all 16 air conditioning units there conked out, sources said.
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, suspended the recount after technicians were unable to fix a problem in the circuit breakers connected to the air conditioners.
All the units in the recount venue are new and were only recently installed.
It was the third time the recount encountered hurdles since it started April 2.
On the second day, four of the 40 revisors hired by the PET decided to quit for undisclosed reasons. Last week, the two camps clashed over excess ballots that had shaded votes for Robredo, which resulted in a suspension of revision of votes in clustered precincts from Buhi town, Camarines Sur.
Meanwhile, sources said that a ballot box from Ocampo town yielded ballots with what appeared to be cigarette burns on their edges and holes in the middle portion. All of them had votes shaded for Robredo.
The same ballot box did not have accompanying election records like election returns, voter’s receipts and minutes of voting.
Sources believed that the city treasurer’s office of the municipality should be investigated and be made to explain the burned ballots.
It was further learned that there were also wet ballots and missing voters’ receipts in other ballot boxes from the same town—just like in other towns in the province.
Last week, 53 out of the 55 clustered precincts in Bula or 97 percent had no voter’s receipts while 20 out of the 30 clustered precincts in Balatan or 68 percent also had missing receipts.
The PET is currently revising the clustered precincts of Camarines Sur. After three weeks of revision, revisors had finished the revision of the towns of Baao, Bato, Bula, Balatan, Sagnay and Buhi. The towns of Ocampo, Pili, Magarao, Presentacion, Lagonoy, Camaligan and Garchitorena are currently being revised.
During the first two weeks of recount, several irregularities were 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 Marcos camp said 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.
The PET issued a gag order on the parties and issued a show cause order for them to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for earlier discussing the merits of the case before the media.
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.