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PET creates team to retrieve ballots in VP poll protest

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has formed a retrieval team to secure the ballot boxes which will be utilized for the election protest involving Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

The retrieval team is tasked to locate and examine all ballot boxes in the contested provinces and cities in order to facilitate their retrieval and transport to the SC compound in Manila for the revision, according to a resolution issued by the PET on August 8.

Designated as part of the team were lawyers Mercedes Mostajo and Linuel Alindogan of the Office of the Chief Attorney as leaders; Joy Jemima Reyes and Jeffrey Raymond Atienza of the Cash Collection and Disbursement Division as Special Disbursing Officers; and Joery Gayanan and/or any official/employee to be recommended by the Office of the Administrative Services as Chief Security Officer and/or Assistant Chief Security Officer.

Each member will receive a monthly allowance of P5,000 "until termination of the retrieval of the ballot boxes" subject of the protest.

The PET said the revision committee will be composed of a lawyer, a recorder and a representative each from the camps of Robredo and Marcos.

The tribunal also fixed the compensation of the members of the panel of commissioners namely Justice Jose Vitug as chairperson who will receive P50,000 a month starting July 2017; and his members, lawyers Angelito Imperio and Irene Ragodon-Guevarra who will each receive P45,000 monthly starting July 2017.

Marcos' camp has proposed Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental for the pilot physical recount of the ballots, while Robredo's camp designated the provinces of Capiz, Sulu and North Cotabato.

Robredo's camp, meanwhile, insisted that the tribunal must first resolve the issue on the integrity of the automated election system before proceeding to the revision of votes.

Her lawyers had said the issue on integrity affects not only Robredo's victory but the proclamation of all winning candidates from the president to the lowest councilor.

Marcos lost to Robredo by just 263,473 votes in the May 2016 election the former senator claimed was marred by fraud. — RSJ, GMA News