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Wet ballots a tactic to delay manual recount

A few days ago, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, lawyer for Leni Robredo, said the manual recount could drag on for six years. Ordinarily, that statement is to be taken with a grain of salt. But the discovery of wet ballots not only in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal where the electoral protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos is being heard since April 2, I can see that this is the tactic adopted by the Liberal Party to prevent an early resolution.

Yesterday, my sources at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) revealed that ballots in the third district of Camarines Sur were also found to be wet. These were from the town of Calabanga and Naga City. After the HRET is finished with these ballots, they will have to be stuffed back into the boxes and delivered to the PET. Well, the ballots might already have dried up by then. But the PET will only find what is now known: the ballots are useless for purposes of revision.

This is no longer an accident of nature. My guess is that wet ballots will ultimately be found in all towns of Camarines Sur when the revision committees at the PET shall have completed the task of opening each ballot box and taking out their contents. Is there any other conclusion we can reach with these discoveries of wet ballots? This wasn’t the work of nature; it was done by human hands.

Atty. Romulo Macalintal was quick to downplay the discovery of wet ballots. Marcos, he said, has no evidence of the fraud that he is claiming. Well, he is right in a way. That’s because the water soaked ballots have been rendered unreadable. It will prevent the revisors from doing what they have been mandated to do: examine each ballot to find out to which candidate an individual vote went. There is nothing to read anymore, that’s why.

I will now connect this to what Macalintal said about the manual recount taking as long as six years. He is conditioning the mind of the people to expect further delays in knowing the truth. With the wet ballots no longer readable, the revision committees will have to turn to the image captures of the individual ballots as these were inserted into the VCMs. This will take time, a long, long time.

The facts are clear. Soaking the ballots with water to render them unreadable is a delaying tactic. It will frustrate the bid of Marcos to determine the genuine outcome of the elections for Vice President in the soonest possible time. The Liberal Party has resorted to a crude ploy to force the manual recount to slow down to a crawl. Only Leni can possibly benefit from a delay. If the manual recount goes beyond 2022, as what Macalintal hinted at, then the whole process will become moot and academic.

With this scenario, the Filipino people will have to guard against further destabilization efforts of the Liberal Party in a desperate move to topple President Rodrigo Duterte and push Leni to the Presidency. We have also to pray that the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, will not allow these delaying tactics to succeed.

 

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Are wet ballots “common” in election protests?

ballot box designReacting to the claims made by former Senator Bongbong Marcos that the discovery of wet ballots in the ballot boxes from four clustered precincts in Bato town in Camarines Sur were strong indications of tampering and cheating, Atty. Romeo Macalintal, lawyer for Vice President Leni Robredo, said such occurrences are “common” in election protests.

But how common is common?

Perhaps Atty. Macalintal forgot that the ballot boxes used in the automated elections are different in design from those used when the casting of votes was still done manually. The new ballot boxes are designed for maximum security, even for protecting ballots from sunlight, which could affect ultra violet markings that are part of the security features.

These ballot boxes are not susceptible to being penetrated by water as in a heavy rain. Besides, these ballot boxes are supposed to be stored in covered areas with adequate security measures. Comelec recognizes the importance of these ballot boxes and their contents in electoral protests, which is what is now before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

Atty. Macalintal is trying to confuse the public and shield his client from damnation from Filipinos who are now presented with strong proof that there was cheating to make the victory of Robredo possible. Data manipulation in the transmission of results is what is believed to have caused Marcos to lose to Robredo by a hairline margin of 263.473 votes.

This scenario has gained credibility as early as right after the proclamation of Robredo because of the almost miraculous turn-around in the counting in the morning of May 10, 2016. The night before, just hours after voting precincts across the country closed and started transmission of results, Marcos lead by as much as 900,000 votes over Robredo. It was a trend. But the canvassing was stopped before midnight. When the canvassing resumed the next morning, Robredo suddenly bounced back with an initial 8,000 lead. This grew to 263,473.

Hence, the public should reject the lame excuse of Atty. Macalintal that the ballot boxes were deluged by heavy rains during  a typhoon in Camarines Sur. The dousing of water into ballot boxes was a common tactic when the voting was still done manually. But with the advent of PCOS, such cheating tactic was rendered inutile because there was no way to stop the transmission of votes. This time, the soaking of the ballots was done to render the ballots useless, because the damage made it impossible to read.