AT LEAST 700 lawyers, IT experts and volunteers for Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero have been mobilized to ensure that the votes for the independent candidates are counted when the polling precincts close and the counting of the ballots begins.
George Garcia, the head of Poe and Escudero’s legal team, said the candidates’ lawyers and volunteers were ready to help protect the integrity of the elections and the votes of their presidential and vice presidential contenders.
“We are about to start the next crucial chapter of the electoral process, which is the counting of the official ballots,” Garcia said.
“Our volunteers are not only here to guard the votes of the Poe-Escudero tandem, but also to fight any form of poll fraud.”
Garcia made his statement even as Poe on Monday exhorted the Filipino people and all the candidates to respect the will of the majority.
“What is most important is for our countrymen’s voices to be heard and counted,” Poe said after casting her vote at the Sta. Lucia Elementary School on Vincencio Street, San Juan.
Garcia said he expected more lawyers, IT experts and volunteers to join them before Congress sits as the National Board of Canvassers on May 24.
His legal team has set up its headquarters in the clubhouse of the National People’s Coalition, the country’s second biggest political party that threw its support behind Poe and Escudero, in New Manila, Quezon City.
“Our battalion of lawyers and volunteers will be here to help until the last vote is counted,” Garcia said.
Before voting, Poe visited the tomb of her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., at the Manila North Cemetery in Manila. FPJ ran for president in 2004 but lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in an election in which the actor’s camp claimed he was cheated.
Poe thanked her countrymen for inspiring her to seek the country’s highest post.
A day before the elections, Poe said she had the jitters just like in 2013 when she ran for senator and received the highest number of votes.
She said it took her only a few minutes to vote.
“I voted before lunch time so there would be fewer people, but it was still crowded because the classrooms were small,” Poe said.
She said she also visited her mother, actress Susan Roces, and they talked until wee hours.
Her husband Neil Llamanzares described the senator as “nervous but she is also very hopeful, as are the rest of the family.”