By Rey G. Panaligan
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal commenced yesterday the manual recount and revision of ballots in three provinces identified by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. in his vice presidential protest.
Journalists and the public are not allowed inside the Supreme Court gym in Ermita, Manila where the proceedings are being held. Only the PET revisors, duly accredited revisors of both parties in the protest, and tribunal personnel are allowed.
Immediately after the opening of the ballot boxes retrieved from Bato, Camarines Sur, Marcos challenged the lack of audit logs inside the 38 ballot boxes and the wet ballots in the four boxes.
Marcos protested the results in 132,446 precincts in 27 provinces and cities. He identified the provinces of Camarines Sur – a stronghold of Vice President Leni G. Robredo – Iloilo, and Negros Oriental with 14,000 ballot boxes in 5,418 clustered precincts for the initial phase of recount and revision.
The result of the manual recount and revision of ballots in the three provinces would determine if the PET, composed of all justices of the Supreme Court, would still proceed with Marcos’ election protest against Robredo.
In an interview with journalists covering the PET, Marcos said: “At the outset of the recount, we already discovered these missing audit logs. They couldn’t tell where those audit logs went. This means somebody opened the ballot boxes and took the audit logs before closing them again.”
He pointed out that audit logs in 38 ballot boxes are very important as they contain the transactions made in a precinct.
He said: “Audit log is a record of when the VCM (vote counting machine) is opened, when the ballot was inserted, when the votes were transmitted to the server, and when the VCM was again closed. But almost all the logs there in that town are missing.”