Robredo camp dismisses ballot box 'anomalies' as 'fake news'

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo dismissed the insinuations of her rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr that the ballot boxes to be used in the recount were tampered with.

Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal held a press conference on Monday, April 2, to answer every issue Marcos raised with the ballot boxes from Camarines Sur, Robredo's home province, after visiting the ballot recount site.

The ballot recount for the electoral protest Marcos filed against the Vice President was started by the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Monday. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)

"Nagtataka lamang ako bakit biglang sasabihin ni Mr Marcos na may anomalya o anuman, ano? Walang anomaly, ang masasabi ko.... 'Yung sinasabi ni Mr Marcos na parang anomaly, fake news 'yun. 'Di totoo 'yun. 'Wag 'nyo hong ilalagay kasi fake news," said Macalintal. (READ: Robredo on VP ballot recount: 'Have no fear, we fight for truth')

(I'm just wondering why Mr Marcos is suddenly saying there are anomalies and the like, right? I say there are no anomalies.... The anomalies Mr Marcos are claiming are just fake news. Don't believe that because that's fake news.)

Marcos' 1st issue: Ballots from 4 clustered precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur are wet. He said the ballot boxes may have been opened to tamper with the election documents inside. 

Macalintal's reply: The PET as well as the Marcos and Robredo camps have long been aware the ballots from Bato were wet. Macalintal explained the ballots got wet after a typhoon hit the town last December.

"I think Mr Marcos should consult 'yung mga taong pinadala niya noong tayo ay nag-retrieve ng ballot boxes. Baka 'di binasa ni Mr Marcos 'yung report ng tao niya o kaya dapat kagalitan niya 'yung tao niya. Hindi sinabi ang totoo, na nu'ng ma-retrieve 'yang mga ballot boxes na 'yan, talagang basa ang ballot boxes," said Macalintal.

(I think Mr Marcos should consult the people he sent during the ballot boxes' retrieval. Maybe Mr Marcos didn't read his own staff's report or maybe he should get mad at them. Maybe they did not tell him the truth that when the ballot boxes were retrieved, they were already wet.)

Marcos' 2nd issue: Thirty-eight ballot boxes do not have audit logs. Marcos said these are documents that contain the specific times a precinct was opened and closed, and when the votes started coming in, among others. 

Macalintal's reply: Robredo's lawyer said the missing audit logs is "not a problem," because copies can be generated from either the SC or the Commission on Elections.

Echoing Marcos' previous statements, Macalintal said the best evidence for alleged electoral fraud would be the ballots themselves and not the audit logs. 

"Kasi hindi naman pupuwedeng porket wala ang audit logs ay may anomaly (Because you can't argue that just because the audit logs are missing, there is already an anomaly). The best evidence in the recount or revision are the ballots. And even the lawyer of Mr Marcos said the best evidence are the ballots," Macalintal said.

He added that the teachers who were members of the Board of Election Inspectors in the 2016 polls may have simply forgotten to put the audit logs when they closed the ballot boxes.

Marcos' 3rd issue: Some of the ballot boxes have holes or cracks.

Macalintal's reply: The Vice President's legal counsel said this is a usual occurrence, as ballot boxes tend to just be thrown around when being transported.  

Macalintal, however, did not blame the people who handled the transport of the ballot boxes from Camarines Sur to the SC.

"Ganoon talaga. Paanong 'di mabubutas eh binabato lang nila sa mga truck? Pagkakuha ng ballot box, inihahagis 'yan," he said. 

(That's what happens. Why won't the ballot boxes have holes in them when people just tend to throw them inside the trucks? When they get the ballot boxes, those are thrown around.)

Macalintal also discounted the possibility that the ballot boxes were sabotaged in order to delay the recount. (READ: Macalintal to surrender lawyer's license if Robredo loses VP protest)

"There is no sabotage. Wala 'yun. 'Wag 'nyong ire-report 'yun. Fake news ho 'yan.... Kawawa naman 'yung mga taga-Camarines Sur," said Macalintal.

(There is no sabotage. None. Don't report that. That's fake news.... I pity the people of Camarines Sur if that were true.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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