FACT CHECK: No results yet in ongoing 2016 VP election recount

Claim: Several blogs and personalities are claiming there are already results in the ongoing recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential election by the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr filed the electoral protest questioning the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2016 polls. Robredo defeated Marcos by 263,473 votes, based on the congressional canvass.

The blogs kantonews.xyz on May 19 and newsglobal.top on May 20 claimed in their headlines that Marcos was already lamang or leading by 41,000 votes in the "final recount." The posts contained a video uploaded by News Philippines Live on May 18 featuring a radio personality who mentioned the supposed lead in his personal Facebook Live discussion. The radio personality said he got the number from broadcaster Erwin Tulfo's show earlier that day. (The blog post at newsglobal.top had already been taken down.)

A similar claim was posted on ph-newcentre.ga, laonlaan.blogspot.com, and lnphil.blogspot.com, but without the words "final recount" in the headline. They contained the same video, this time uploaded by Tokhang TV on May 17. (The blog post at lnphil.blogspot.com has since been taken down.)

There are also recent similar claims either made in blog posts or reported in news articles:

The facts: Since the recount started on April 2, the PET has not announced or released anything official yet about the results as of this posting.

The vote counts mentioned in the claims were not supported by official documents to show how they arrived at the figures. Most of the claims only cited anonymous "insiders" or "revisors" as their sources. In the PET recount, there are 3 kinds of revisors: a head revisor independently hired by the PET, and revisors from the Robredo and Marcos camps.

Claims of "final" or "partial" vote counts by blog posts or personalities should be taken with a grain of salt, unless backed up by official, verifiable sources or documents.

For the "41,000- or 49,000-vote lead" or "21,000-vote reduction" to be true, there should be computations from official PET reports showing that either Robredo's 263,473-vote lead has been surpassed or her votes actually went down accordingly.

In the absence of such official reports, it is difficult to know whether these claims are accurate. As a judicial procedure, the PET's recount is confidential in nature.

This is unlike the canvass of votes in Congress for national positions, or unlike the partial unofficial tally by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for all elective positions after the polls, where regular or real-time updates of the vote count are released, and proceedings are highly publicized.

The PET has even warned both the Marcos and Robredo camps to observe the sub judice rule, which prohibits them and their lawyers from making comments and disclosures about ongoing judicial proceedings to avoid preempting the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.

In addition, the recount so far only covers Marcos' 3 pilot provinces: Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. Robredo obtained a total of 1,493,517 votes in these areas in the congressional canvass, while Marcos got 202,136 votes. (READ: Presidential Electoral Tribunal: What happens to a protest?)

This is just the "first stage" of the recount. Marcos has to obtain a "substantial recovery" of votes in the 3 pilot provinces for the PET to determine if the two other causes of action in his protest have merit: to continue with the recount in 24 other areas, and to nullify the results in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

The PET has yet to announce what "substantial recovery" exactly means.

If the PET proceeds with Marcos' other causes of action, his electoral protest would take more months before a final verdict is issued. Michael Bueza, with Mara Cepeda and Lian Buan/Rappler.com

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