Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday called out as "fake news" the information that her lead against rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has dwindled by over 21,000 votes a month into the manual recount that is part of his challenge to her victory in the 2016 polls.
Attaching the tweet of the judiciary reporter of the Philippine Star, Robredo tweeted: "This is fake news. [This is] propaganda meant to condition the mind of the public."
This is fake news. Propaganda meant to condition the mind of the public. 2 weeks ago, PR stunt was we already lost 5,000 votes. Both are fake. If you really won the elections, why the need for fake news? https://t.co/9SdFCffsdF— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) May 3, 2018
"[Two] weeks ago, PR stunt was we already lost 5,000 votes. Both are fake," she said. Her lawyer Romulo Macalintal earlier denied the 5,000-vote loss.
"If you really won the elections, why the need for fake news?" Robredo wrote, without directly addressing the camp of Marcos.
Robredo defeated Marcos in the 2016 election by 263,473 votes, a victory the former senator claims is marred by electoral fraud.
Apart from the Philippine Star, newspapers such as the Manila Times, the Manila Bulletin, and the Manila Standard carried the dwindling-lead story, citing as sources unnamed individuals within the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
The PET has not officially announced this. Before the manual vote recount began on April 2, a PET adhoc committee member said the body will not issue partial results.
Robredo lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo said Macalintal will issue a statement on the matter.
Edu Punay, the Philippine Star reporter, did not comment on Robredo's tweet.
After a failed first attempt, the vice president's team is trying to convince the PET to direct its revisors -- PET-hired employees leading the recount -- to count as valid votes the ballot ovals shaded at least 25 percent of the way, a claim she said is backed by a Commission on Elections resolution.
The PET currently applies a 50-percent threshold.
In her own motions before the PET, Robredo through her lawyers said she was suffering a "systematic decrease" in her votes due to the 50-percent threshold.
As an example, she cited the Camarines Sur municipality of Balatan, particularly in Barangay Laganac, Clustered Precinct No. 16.
Based on election returns, she said she earned 358 votes in this precinct, while Marcos got 17. But when the 50-percent standard was applied in the recount, the results showed she lost 12 votes. Marcos lost none.
While she can claim these ballots in her favor, she said "discretion is now given during the appreciation of ballots on whether these valid votes should be given back to her."
"At the risk of belaboring the point, the physical count is now running inconsistent with the results based on the Election Returns, Statement of Votes by Precinct, Ballot Images and Voter's Verifiable Audit Paper Trail (VVPAT)," she said in a reconsideration pleading after the PET junked her first motion to apply the 25-percent threshold.
"This misleads the Honorable Tribunal into believing that the VCM (Vote-Counting Machine) failed to accurately read and count the ballots. Thus, leading into a mistaken notion that protestant Marcos successfully proved substantial recovery in this Election Protest," she said. — RSJ, GMA News