There was no conspiracy between Vice President Leni Robredo and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over the poll body's affirmation of the standard it used to determine the validity of votes in the 2016 election, her camp said on Friday.
Former congressman Barry Gutierrez, a legal adviser to Robredo, denied a conspiracy charge by lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesman for former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., after the Comelec position on the shading threshold issue matched the vice president's.
Though its spokesperson clarified that Comelec was backing neither party, the poll body has affirmed that it used a 25-percent threshold in the 2016 election, and said using a different standard in election protests would be "erroneous."
Robredo is appealing before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for the application of the 25-percent threshold to prevent the supposed disenfranchisement of voters.
The Comelec's stance, submitted through a required court filing, contradicts the position of Marcos and the Office of the Solicitor General, both supportive of the 50-percent threshold currently applied by the PET in the Marcos-Robredo manual vote recount.
In response, Rodriguez said the Comelec's position on the threshold percentage was "patently illegal" and a move meant to "justify" Robredo's alleged cheating in the 2016 polls.
"We are not at all surprised with the COMELEC position. The conspiracy is so clear and the co-conspirator is not expected to admit it," Rodriguez said in a statement.
Gutierrez, in his own statement, categorically denied the charge and accused Marcos' spokesman of "pulling stories out of thin air."
They disagreed on when the Comelec adopted the 25-percent threshold -- Rodriguez said "suspiciously" only months after the election, while Gutierrez, citing "news reports," said months before.
"The September 2016 resolution that Mr. Rodriguez was referring to merely affirmed that the VCMs read the votes correctly, as found by the Random Manual Audit conducted after the elections," Gutierrez said.
In its submission to the PET, the Comelec said it had set the ballot shading threshold at 25 percent "for purposes of the 09 May 2016 National and Local Elections." —NB, GMA News