A letter from the Supreme Court to the parties in the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo showed that, indeed, it ordered the suspension of the revision of votes until further notice, contrary to its press statement Tuesday that the recount would resume later this month.
Meanwhile, with the suspension of the manual vote recount at the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the camp of Robredo on Wednesday said the election protest filed by Marcos was “dead.”
“Game is over for the Marcos’ recount,” Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said.
He said Robredo’s lead over Marcos remained intact following the conclusion of the recount and the re-appreciation of the ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Macalintal said they filed an eight-page supplemental manifestation with the PET to inform it that Marcos was not able to make a substantial recovery from the three pilot provinces for his protest to continue.
The Supreme Court’s letter, dated Jan. 22, 2019, informed both camps about the suspension of the recount proceedings starting Jan. 1.
“This is to confirm the announcement made by the PET Ad Hoc Committee yesterday [Jan. 21, 2019] regarding the suspension of the revision proceedings in the above-captioned electoral protest case,” the PET said.
“This is to give way for the Tribunal to prepare for the revision using the decrypted ballots and or election paraphernalia. The revision proceedings will resume until further notice.”
George Garcia, Marcos’ legal counsel, confirmed the content of the PET letter.
“The letter says until further notice,” Garcia said, adding that their camp would appreciate receiving clarifications as to the date of the resumption and the reason cited.
“Hopefully, they would be able to explain it well,” he said.
However, when asked if Marcos would formally ask the PET for clarification on the matter by filing a plea, he said they would be leaving it the decision of the Tribunal.
“In the final analysis, it’s the PET’s absolute discretion,” Garcia said.
On Tuesday, both parties said they received information from their revisors that the PET had suspended the vote recount.
Revisors are the people in charge of recounting and assessing which ballots should be considered as valid votes for the candidates involved in the poll protest.
The PET started the vote recount in April last year.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, the PET said it was near the end of the vote recount, which involves 5,417 clustered precincts from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
“On January 21, 2019, the revision of ballots was completed except for a few ballot boxes, which were referred to the Tribunal for further action, and the wet or damaged ballots, where the Tribunal directed the Revision Committee (RC) to use the decrypted ballot images provided by the Commission on Elections,” the PET said.
“The revision proceedings for the remaining ballot boxes and decrypted ballot images will continue on January 28, 2019.”
In the interim, the Tribunal said, it will prepare for the use of decrypted ballot images in the revision proceedings.
The Tribunal said after the revision proceedings, the next stage was the appreciation of the ballots following the Guidelines of the Appreciation of Ballots.