MANILA— The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo said former Senator Bongbong Marcos was fed with wrong information on the ‘square’ opposite the names of the candidates on the ballots, which the latter claims as “shocking and highly questionable’ and proof of massive cheating to favor the former.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s counsel, explained that the ‘square’ containing the black shading was a new and special feature of the ballot images for the 2016 polls.
“Marcos was clearly fed with the wrong information by his adviser or a person who was as hysterical and excited as Marcos when they saw this characteristics of the ballot images,” Macalintal said in a press conference in Manila on Tuesday.
“They did not know that this ‘square’ containing the black shading made by the voter on the ballot was a new and special feature of the ballot images for the 2016 elections,” he added.
Macalintal noted that “in the 2016 elections the Comelec set a 25-percent threshold or the extent of the shading a voter had to make on the ballot in order that such vote could be counted by the vote counting machines. If the shading is less than 25 percent, the machine will not count the vote which means that the shading must be 25 percent or more.”
“And once the shading on the ballot met said threshold, the same is counted by the machine and the ballot image when printed will show that the shade is inside the ‘square’ which means that such shading was the recognized and counted by the machines,” he said.
Macalintal made a presentation on the different types of ballots wherein Marcos’ votes and even the votes of President Duterte and then presidential candidates Grace Poe, the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and other candidates had also their counted votes inside the ‘square; and ballot images showing the voter shaded more than one name and the vote was not counted for any candidate.
“It is clearly ridiculous and frivolous for Marcos to say that Robredo’s votes inside the ‘square’ is a sign of irregularity and that only his votes that are also inside a similar ‘square’ are immaculately clean votes”, Macalintal said.
With this, the lawyer reiterated its previous “plea to defeated vice presidential candidate not to use the name of Robredo and his dying or election protest to gain media and political mileage for his plan to run for Senator in the 2019 national and local electons.”
“By way of self-defense, we call upon Marcos to concentrate on the forthcoming recount of ballots from the three (3) pilot province where he claimed he would overcome the 250,000 vote-lead of Robredo, instead of immediately informing the press that he is in possession of ‘shocking evidence’ of election fraud only to find out later that he was fed with the wrong information”, Macalintal said.
“Marcos is clearly demonstrating what the Supreme Court said in a case ‘the propensity of election losers to demand a recount of ballots or filing all sorts of petitions in an open display of unwillingness to accept defeat,” he added.
The camp of Marcos, meanwhile, slammed Macalintal’s explanation regarding the presence of ‘square’ on the ballots.
Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, said that the public had the right to know what there are squares instead of circles.
“Schooled in the art of deception, this is nothing but another vain attempt of Mrs. Robredo to explain the presence of boxes on the ballot images instead of the circles. The people deserve nothing but a credible and authentic reason why the squares, instead of the original circles, are there,” he added.
Rodriguez is wondering why there was a sudden change of heart from the other party regarding the presence of squares, which Marcos earlier questioned.
“Let me remind him that when Senator Marcos first came out and presented the squares in the ballot images, he discredited it and claimed that those were fraudulent, tampered and manipulated pieces of evidence,” he said.
“Now Atty. Macalintal appears to be lawyering for the Comelec by claiming that the squares are a new feature and that the parties were informed of the presence of the squares in the ballot images,” Marcos’ spokesperson added.
With this, he challenged Macalintal to produce a statement that will substantiate his claim on the poll body’s explanation regarding the squares on the ballot.
“I dare him now to produce any briefing made by the Comelec on the presence of the squares because I have yet to meet anyone – be it a political party or candidate or Information Technology expert – who had ever been informed of the existence of squares on the ballot images,” Rodriguez said.
“Either Atty. Macalintal is just being consistently untrue or he had a special briefing from Comelec exclusively for the then ruling Liberal Party. Either way, the existence of the square is an unlawful insertion and alteration of the digital image. If they did the insertion clandestinely, we wonder what other alterations they did to alter the digital results?” he added.
Rodriguez noted that there were no boxes shown during the review of the source code of the assailed ballots.
“The squares should not be there because during the source code review, no boxes were shown. If ever, the boxes must have been added after the source code review which is against the law,” he explained.