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PET denies Robredo bid for 25% oval shade threshold in recount

The Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has denied Vice President Leni Robredo's motion asking that it follow the shading threshold set by the Commission on Elections to consider votes as valid.

Robredo's legal team last week asked the PET to apply the 25 percent threshold for ballot shading as it embarks on its manual recount of vice presidential votes from over 5,000 ballot boxes from three provinces as part of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s challenge to her 2016 poll victory.

"Protestee's claim that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as purportedly confirmed by the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report applies the 25% threshold percentage in determining a valid vote is inaccurate," stated an April 10 notice of resolution signed by SC Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta.

"The Court is not aware of any Comelec Resolution that states the applicability of a 25% threshold; and the Tribunal cannot treat the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report as proof of the threshold used by the Comelec," it added.

Instead, the PET cited Comelec Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 9164, which it said does not mention the threshold raised by Robredo's camp.

"Prior to the amendment in Resolution No. 9164, Rule 15, Section 6 of Resolution No. 8804 states that any shading less than 50% shall not be considered a valid vote," it said.

This, the Court said, is consistent with PET rules, adding that while the 2010 PET rules states the 50-percent threshold, the 2018 Revisor's Guide "did not impose a new threshold."

Further citing the 2018 Revisor's Guide, the PET also found Robredo's claim of a "systematic reduction" of her votes "without basis and shows a misunderstanding of the revision process."

It said ballots under question, under the rules, will be marked for examination by the PET.

"During the revision proceedings, there is yet to final reduction or even addition of votes. Such final reduction or addition of votes may only take place after the Tribunal has ruled on the objections and/or claims and after reception of evidence of the parties, if necessary," the tribunal said.

Meanwhile, the PET noted Robredo's manifestation of "grave concern," filed after one revision committee allegedly "denied her claim" to four ballots found inside the unused ballots envelope, and referred it to PET commissioners for action.

The PET also asked both Robredo and Marcos' camps to explain why they should not be cited in indirect contempt for disclosing "sensitive" information as regards the recount process, considering they have earlier been ordered to refrain from making comments on the poll protest pending its resolution. —JST, GMA News