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‘Dismayed’ Bongbong says resort outing of recount staff included Robredo hire

Armed with allegations of impropriety, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. has asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to investigate an "outing" of manual vote recount personnel that supposedly included at least one employee of Vice President Leni Robredo.

At the core of Marcos' latest pleading before the PET is a supposed June 22 outing at a resort in Barangay Pansol, Calamba City, Laguna that was allegedly joined by 24 PET employees and one revisor for the vice president.

Of the 24, at least 10 were allegedly Head Revisors, PET hires who are in charge of determining the number of votes earned by either party in the ongoing recount. The others, he said, were the chief tabulator, an alternate head revisor, an appraiser, at least six ballot box custodians and their chief.

One was allegedly an Osmundo Abuyuan, a party revisor or a person in charge of claiming or objecting to ballots for Robredo, Marcos said in a manifestation of grave concern filed Monday morning.

Marcos' spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, told reporters their camp discovered the "outing" through photos uploaded to Facebook that were later deleted.

"Fraternizing with the party revisor for the protestee is obviously prohibited by this Honorable Tribunal since this act is proscribed not only by the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel but also by the Canon of Judicial Ethics," the pleading stated.

'They sent food'

In response, Robredo's lead legal counsel Romulo Macalintal said all party revisors from both camps were invited to the outing, and urged the PET not to "be bothered by this trivial incident."

"In fact, we are wondering why they are even asking for an investigation when they sent food to the said event," he said in a statement to reporters.

"Furthermore, the PET head revisors should even be lauded for this move considering the growing tensions during the revision proceedings as reported in the press," he added.  

Marcos cries 'conspiracy'

The filing said Marcos was "obviously dismayed and tremendously demoralized" by the alleged outing, one that his team found was booked not by the Robredo hire, but a PET ballot box custodian.

"He is stunned that there appears to be a conspiracy between the camp of the protestee, represented by Abuyuan, and these PET personnel," it said.

He said through the manifestation that it was "highly plausible that the camp of the protestee, through her party revisor Abuyuan, already infiltrated and curried favor with these PET personnel in order to manipulate, influence and/or control the revision proceedings and maneuver the revision results in her favor."

This calls for investigation and the imposition of the "appropriate sanctions" on the PET personnel, Robredo, and Abuyuan, the Marcos filing said.

Marcos' plea for a PET probe was the latest filed before the court hearing his challenge to Robredo's allegedly fraudulent victory in the 2016 polls.

The ongoing vote recount covers the provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental, and its results will determine whether or not Marcos' election protest will proceed with the rest of the 31,047 contested clustered precincts. — BM, GMA News