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Wet ballots, missing audit logs? Nothing to worry about, says Robredo lawyer

Vice President Leni Robredo's lawyer on Monday dismissed the alleged wet ballots and missing audit logs from clustered precincts that were pointed out by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. at the start of the manual recount in connection with their election case.

Speaking to reporters after Marcos cited irregularities in ballots and precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal claimed there was "nothing to worry about" the wet ballots and missing audit logs.

Missing audit logs, he said, are "only technical defects" that will not affect the accuracy of the vote count. He added that the credibility of the ballots remains despite the missing audit logs.

"That's not a determining factor na nagkaroon ng anomalies. If ever, these are only technical defects or technicalities which will never affect the genuiness and accuracy of the count," Macalintal said.

"Ang pinag-uusapan diyan, tama ba ang bilang, hindi tama ba ang audit logs." 

Marcos earlier alleged that 38 of 42 clustered precincts in Bato had missing audit logs. His lawyer later claimed it was 39 of 40 precincts. Audit logs are the records of the time a voting precinct opens and closes and the time it is fed votes.

Macalintal further claimed that wet ballots, which he said were "not intentional" in this case, were commonplace and could easily be remedied through the printing of ballot images.

"Nothing to be alarmed, nothing to worry about. Wala hong dapat ipangamba dahil 'yun ho ay may kanya-kanyang litrato (ballot images)," he said, adding he had encountered ballots in worse condition in other poll protest cases he had handled in the past.

Macalintal also said the wet ballots from four Bato precincts that Marcos alleged "illegible" had been in that state even before being transported to the Supreme Court for the recount. They could have gotten wet in a December storm, he said.

"There's no sabotage, wala 'yun. 'Wag niyong ire-report 'yun, fake news 'yun. Kawawa naman 'yung mga taga-Camarines Sur," he told reporters.

The manual votes recount in three of Marcos' pilot provinces kicked off on Monday, with 40 revision committees composed of three people each chipping away at some 1,400 ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, Robredo's bailiwick.

The revisors will also recount ballots from Iloilo and Negros Oriental, making for ballots from a total of 5,418 clustered precincts. The results of this recount will determine whether or not Marcos' poll protest will push through with the remaining 31,047 contested clustered precincts. —KBK, GMA News