A MONTH after the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal began its official recount for the contested 2016 vice presidential race, the lead of Vice President Leni Robredo over her closest rival, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been reduced by more than 21,000 votes.
A PET insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak for the tribunal, disclosed that as of Wednesday, the margin of votes between Robredo and Marcos of 263,473 in the official tally during the canvassing has been cut down to about 242,000.
Besides the 50-percent threshold for the recount that initially cost Robredo over 5,000 votes, the source said the significant deduction in her lead was attributed to “other votes deemed not acceptable under PET rules.”
Earlier, the PET denied the plea of Robredo for the 25-percent threshold to be applied in the revision of votes and instead set the threshold at 50 percent.
The tribunal has asked Marcos and the Commission on Elections to comment on Robredo’s motion for reconsideration.
The PET recount, which started April 2, has so far covered only one-sixth of the total precincts in the three pilot provinces after one month of the manuaal recount.
The revisors, in particular, completed the manual recount of votes in 16 towns of Camarines Sur, namely: Baao, Balatan, Bato, Buhi, Bula, Camaligan, Canaman, Ocampo, Gainza, Garchitorena, Lagonoy, Magarao, Pili, Presentacion, Sangay and San Fernando.
They have yet to complete the revision in 17 more towns and two cities in Robredo’s home province.
Apart from Camarines Sur, the two other pilot provinces identified by Marcos in his protest against Robredo were Iloilo and Negros Oriental. All three provinces cover 5,418 clustered precincts.
The results from the pilot provinces will help PET determine if the recount will proceed in other provinces contested by Marcos.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.
The first month of the PET revision of votes has raised several questions.
Revisors have been finding wet ballot boxes, unused or excess ballots with shaded votes for Robredo, missing audit logs and missing voters’ receipts in Camarines Sur towns.
They also discovered ballots with what appeared to be cigarette burns on their edges and holes in the middle portion.
The same ballot box did not have accompanying election records like election returns, voter’s receipts and minutes of voting.
Last week, revisors found ballots that appeared to have been soaked in liquid chemical as well as jumbled election documents.
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.
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.