WET ballots and missing audit logs of ballot boxes were among the “irregularities” observed by the camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at the start of the recount for the vice presidential post on Monday.
Marcos, at a news briefing, noted that ballots from four clustered precincts in Batos, Camarines Sur have recently been wet.
He said these ballots could not have stayed wet considering that it’s been two years since the 2016 national and local elections were held.
“We can’t understand how, but I think’s it is impossible the ballots have been wet for two years,” Marcos said.
He added that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) should look deeper into these ballots, because it would indicate that someone opened the ballot boxes.
Likewise, Marcos also noted that 39 out of the 40 total clustered precincts in Bato do not have audit logs.
The audit logs, according to Marcos, contain the record of the times the precinct opened, closed and the time the votes were cast
Marcos admitted that his camp is concerned about votes that came in the late evening of May 9, 2016, and early morning of May 10, 2016.
He said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is to be blamed for the missing audit logs, since they have in their possession the ballot boxes.
“We’re going to have to find a way to recover those audit logs somehow. Since we are using computers, maybe its possible that those audit logs are in the database,” the former senator said.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.
In his protest, Marcos contested the results from 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clusters, covering 27 provinces and cities.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls, with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’s 14,155,344 votes.
Meanwhile, Robredo’s legal counsel Romulo Macalintal dismissed Marcos’s insinuation that the wet ballots and missing audit logs indicate irregularities in the 2016 vice presidential race.
Macalintal said the ballots got wet during a typhoon sometime in December.
“I think Mr. Marcos should consult his representatives when the ballots were retrieved. Maybe he failed to read their report or they hid the truth from him about the condition of the ballots,” Macalintal said.
The wet ballots, according to Macalintal, are also “immaterial” considering the existence of ballot images.
“That is the beauty of an automated election. Because for every ballot cast, there is corresponding ballot image, corresponding picture of the ballot,” he stated.
With regard to the missing audit logs, Macalintal said Marcos should not make a big deal out of it since he can request a copy of the same from the Supreme Court or to the Comelec.
“It’s not a problem. If the ballot boxes have no audit logs it does not mean that there is an anomaly.The best evidence in the recount or revision are the balots,” Macalintal said. “The credibility of the ballots will remain,” he added.
Under the 2010 PET Rules, the revision shall be limited to three pilot provinces, as selected by the protestant. Marcos had selected Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental as pilot provinces.
This covers a total of 5,418 clustered precincts. The results of the revision of the pilot provinces shall thereafter determine whether the instant protest will proceed with the remaining 31,047 protested clustered precincts, again following Rule 65 of the 2010 PET Rules.