A BBM victory in the offing?

With four days left before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), convenes to deliberate and vote on the results of the manual recount, speculations have been flying thick, and a veteran journalist even saying it’s going to be an 8-6 vote in favor of Bongbong Marcos.

That a vote has already been taken ahead of the Oct. 8 schedule is not unusual. Justices usually signify their votes so that it can be established what the majority’s position is, and a ponente assigned to write the decision. The Oct. 8 session is more of a formality, perhaps with clarificatory questions, before the final vote is made.

Citing sources, Philippine Star columnist Federico Pascual, Jr. said the outcome is 8 justices voting to rule that fraud was uncovered in the manual recount and allow Marcos to continue with the revision of ballots in other provinces he identifies. Six voted in the negative, which basically means that there is significant fraud that could change the outcome of the elections.

It must be emphasized that this doesn’t mean that Marcos will be declared the winner, and Leni Robredo to step down. It will simply affirm what Marcos had claimed: that there was massive cheating in these pilot provinces. If the recount show lower number of votes for Robredo, and a higher number for BBM, then that would be reflected in the results.

Victory for BBM will have to wait at least one more year, that is assuming the pace of the second part of the manual revision will proceed much faster. Still, it will be a big blow on Robredo, for it will prove she had won by cheating. Her hold to her position, already shaky as it is, will grow weaker and weaker.

Suspense: Nation awaits verdict on Leni-Bongbong case

Like most Filipinos, I am eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s announcement on the manual recount conducted by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal for ballots cast in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur in the May 2016 elections for Vice President.

It’s been three years since former Senator Bongbong Marcos filed a protest on the results of the elections and challenged the victory of Leni Robredo in the VP race. Based on the results, Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos by 263,473 votes. It was a hairline victory at best, and Marcos’s protest has drawn widespread belief that he is the rightful VP.

On Sept. 10, 2019, the Supreme Court spokesman, Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka, told media that the PET chaired by Justice Benjamin Caguioa, had submitted the results of its revision for the three pilot provinces. He declined to give a clue on the contents of the report.

The announcement triggered a flood of speculations in social media. Was there really fraud in these three provinces? If we look back to the revision activities during last year, there were instances when tell-tale signs of ballot boxes being compromised were discovered. The ballot boxes have security features to ensure that the contents are not manipulated or destroyed. The condition of many boxes put the integrity of the ballots in question.

We can imagine our Supreme Court Justices going over the PET report with a fine-toothed comb. As Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said, the High Court has to go carefully on this matter because of the paramount public interest involved. But we also hope that the agonizing wait will not last too long. Filipinos want to know the truth.

Marcos needs only to prove one thing with this first phase of the protest: that indeed, cheating had taken place in the three pilot provinces. Nobody can tell as yet on just how much cheating did take place, if any. But a finding to that effect would be fatal to Robredo even if the recount’s results fail to change the result to favor Marcos.

Cynthia Patag’s fake news

The news about Cynthia Patag filing a letter with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) supposedly signed by 5,500 Ilonggos urging its esteemed members to adopt the 25% threshold for ballot shading in the poll protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos was met with ridicule and contempt in her own city.

In the first place, there was no organized campaign to raise those 5,500 signatures in Iloilo City and Province. It just came out from nowhere, another of the magic tricks that the Liberal Party had mastered in obtaining electoral victory through fraud and deception. Not a single word has been heard about it; had it been real, it should have created so much noise here and the media would have gotten wind of it.

Secondly, Ilonggos are convinced there was massive cheating for the vice presidential race in the city and province. Leni Robredo was an unknown commodity in Iloilo in the May 9, 2016 elections. Bongbong Marcos was a one-term senator, and enjoyed high popularity and support among Ilonggos. His wife has many relatives in Iloilo province. There is quite a number of politicians who were once part of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) of his father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Add to that is the fact that Bongbong ran as vice president in tandem with the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. That fact alone boosted the popularity and credibility of Bongbong in the eyes of Ilonggos.

In my radio commentary last Friday, July 20, 2018, I described this antic of Ms. Patag as “fake news”. It insults the intelligence of Ilonggos. The first insult happened when the Liberal Party made it appear that Robredo won over Bongbong by a landslide in the elections. Based on conversations I had with political leaders after the 2016 national and local elections, the results was the other way around: Bongbong had trounced Leni in Iloilo.

Leni must resign, now

The on-going manual recount for the Vice Presidential race in the first pilot province of Camarines Sur has established a trend: A steady and consistent decline in the number of votes credited to Leni Robredo in her home province.

leni robredo credit inquirer nino jesus orbeta

Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

As reported yesterday by Atty. Glenn Chong on his Facebook wall, the teams of revisors who had opened ballot boxes from just 500 clustered precincts have already nullified an estimated 21,000 votes counted in her favor.

Most probably, these involved inadequately shaded ovals beside her name for failure to meet the 50% shading threshold as required by a Comelec resolution promulgated in March 2010 for purposes of manual recount.

The Supreme Court has ruled that 25% shading which apparently is what was found in thousands of ballots does not count for a valid vote. Robredo’s lawyers have filed a motion for reconsideration.

Slowly, but surely, her lead of 263,475 votes over former Senator Bongbong Marcos is being whittled — by 21,000 after only 500 of 2100 clustered precincts in Camarines Sur — and the pattern, and trend, will only speed up in the weeks ahead.

The lead of 263,475 was a rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick pulled off by the Comelec then headed by disgraced Chairman Andy Bautista. It was a hairline margin by any standards, and is now getting thinner and thinner.

If Robredo’s integrity is still intact, as she insists it does, she should now resign. Every week that goes by, and as more evidence of fraud are uncovered, the image of Robredo is growing more rotten. She is desecrating the memory of her husband by allowing herself to be part of this charade put up by the Liberal Party.

1/4 shading for Leni is cheating, period.

How difficult is it to shade a small oval to indicate a voter’s choice among candidates for a political position? Well, with the use of a marking pen, it doesn’t take one second to fully shade the blank space inside the oval. It would be more difficult keeping the shading from spilling out of the oval itself. Hence, it is hard to imagine how a voter, even the old who might have difficulty holding the marking pen, could possibly shade only 1/4 of the oval.

ballot shading

That’s especially when we consider that the candidate is a local bet aspiring to be Vice President of the Republic. If the voters, thousands of them in Camarines Sur in this case, really rooted for Leni Robredo, they would have taken extra care in shading the oval just to make sure their votes are properly credited to her.

It must also be recalled that for months before the elections, the Comelec and media organizations, especially TV, aired voter education activities, and much airtime was spent showing voters how to properly shade the oval. Nothing was left to chance, and shading the oval just 1/4 of the space simply cannot be justified.

This is the reason the efforts of Leni to get the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to accept her argument that 25% shading of the oval is sanctioned by Comelec. With the small size of the oval, 1/4 is more like a dot using the marking pen. It is not the kind of shading a voter would make to express his or her vote. It is more consistent with haste and rush to mark hundreds, if not thousands of ballots, by one individual.

What this indicates is fraud, especially because it involves thousands of ballots found with only 25% shading. It unmasks the gigantic cheating to add votes for Leni and enable her to catch up with her rival, Senator Bongbong Marcos, who had led by 1.9 million votes going into the third day of the national canvass in May 2016. As experience has shown time and again, a trend is established early in the first six hours of an electronic canvass, and never is reversed in the way Robredo squeaked past Marcos.

Leni won by “systematic cheating”

It is now a downhill ride for Leni Robredo towards oblivion. The “systematic cheating” that propelled her to a hairline victory over former Senator Bongbong Marcos in the May 9, 2016 elections is now being uncovered in the ongoing manual recount before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). What she has described as “systematic decreasing” of her votes in her motion asking the PET to apply the 25% threshold is merely reversing the outcome of the cheating. She is now becoming the victim of her own — and the Liberal Party’s — cheating machinery.

leni robredo credit inquirer nino jesus orbeta

Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Yesterday (April 20, 2018), a debate broke out on my Facebook wall over a report that Leni has already lost as much as 5.000 votes in the first two weeks of the manual recount. Two rabid supporters of Robredo joined the thread and claimed this report about the 5,000 votes was “fake news”. Now that is amusing, because at least two national newspapers quoted insiders at the PET as the source of this information. And Leni herself used the term “systematic decrease” to describe what is happening.

The PET denied her motion. She has appealed. By the way she sounds now, it’s as if her survival depends on persuading the PET to allow the 25% shading to be counted as valid.

Of course, the issue about shading isn’t the only factor that will lead to Leni’s defeat. Already, evidence on the large-scale cheating have surfaced: ballots being soaked in water, tampered ballot boxes, etc. This is just for Camarines Sur. Marcos has also asked the PET to do a manual recount for Iloilo and Negros Oriental. With her narrow margin of 263,000 votes — a really thin hairline difference — Leni could find herself in the loser’s box once the PET is done with these three provinces.

There is a lesson here: cheating does not work. As one friend remarked on Facebook: “Bad karma is real”. Leni is slowly being tortured by karma.

Robredo’s lie exposed: There is no Comelec resolution allowing 25% shading

Where on earth did Leni Robredo get the idea that 25% shading of the oval constitutes a valid vote?

Robredo, through her lawyers, appealed to the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to reconsider its ruling to annul votes counted for her if the shading on the oval across her name failed to meet the 50% threshold, which was set by Comelec itself for the May 10, 2010 elections through Resolution No. 8804 promulgated on March 22, 2010.

Did the Comelec ever entertain the idea of partial shading below 50%? In Resolution No. 10113 promulgated on May 3, 2016, the Comelec stated expressly that: “The intent of the voters is expressing by fully shading the oval beside the name of the candidate. This is consistent with the instruction provided on the face of the ballot on how to vote.” The photo below shows particular section on the appreciation of ballots:

 

Comelec Resolution Shading Ballots

There is no Comelec Resolution or guideline allowing 25% shading as valid vote. This is what Comelec Resolution No. 10113 promulgated on May 3, 2016 states.

The PET rightly turned down the motion of Robredo to reduce the threshold of the shading to 25%. An estimated 5,000 votes in favor of Robredo have been nullified during the first two weeks of the manual recount as a result of the PET’s ruling that the threshold level should be 50% as stipulated in Resolution No. 8804 dated March 22, 2010 (See RULE 15, Section 6, paragraph “l” shown below).

Screenshot 2018-04-19 14.36.44

Robredo’s lawyer anchor their claim that Comelec allowed a 25% threshold of shading in Minute Resolution No. 16-600 adopted by the Comelec En Banc on September 6, 2016, or four months after the conduct of the elections. What does this resolution say? This resolution was adopted AFTER Senator Bongbong Marcos had already filed his Electoral Protest at this time based on massive cheating. What it did was “adopt and confirm” the memorandum dated September 6, 2016 — submitted on the same day — by Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia, Oversight Commissioner for the Random Manual Audit. It had no force of law.

Letter to PET

And it’s worthwhile examining this memorandum of Commissioner Guia submitted on September 6, 2016, and subsequently adopted and confirmed by the Commission En Banc. Commissioner Guia acknowledged that Comelec guidelines require that voters shade the oval FULLY, but added that the system was designed to read oval shading of “about 25%” as a valid vote. What is the basis of this? It was Smartmatic that did this without authority from the Comelec on Guia’s flimsy excuse that this guaranteed the right to suffrage of voters is not impaired.

Question: Can Smartmatic override the law? Apparently no, which is the reason why the Supreme Court rejected Robredo’s motion to reconsider those votes that were nullified for failure to meet the 50% threshold.

Now these documents deserve deeper investigation. Was this part of the grand cheating scheme of the Liberal Party as carried out by then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista? For me, it is. We have to keep in mind the elections were over and done, and all that remained to be done was a manual recount of the ballots. Bautista changed the rules of the game after the final horn had sounded, obviously to make sure insufficiently shaded ballots for Robredo would be counted in her favor.