Former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban thinks that the decision of the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to junk ballots that have less than 50 percent shading in losing vice presidential bet Bongbong Marcos’s poll protest is a big mistake.
Panganiban said this decision could lead to an “unintended peril” wherein Vice President Leni Robredo could lose her post not because she cheated as alleged by Marcos but because the High Court magistrates felt that the millions of voters who shaded more than 25 percent but less than 50 percent of the oval on their ballots should not be counted.
“Using the 50-percent threshold, the total recount could — repeat, could — have the unintended consequence of overturning Leni’s lead, not because of cheating but because of a mere shading loophole that disenfranchised proportionately many more of her voters than of Bongbong’s. To stress, the election protest was lodged because of alleged election cheating. But the 50-percent rule could deprive Leni of her mandate because of the disenfranchisement of her voters. This is certainly unfair not only to her but more so to the electorate,” said Panganiban in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column.
Panganiban said that while both Robredo and Marcos would be affected by the SC decision, Robredo would suffer the most because she has a big lead over Marcos in the 25 contested provinces cited by the losing VP bet.
With Robredo winning over Marcos by only 263,473, Panganiban said the disenfranchisement of Robredo’s votes would be “significant or substantial” in reducing her vote tally.
Panganiban said the SC should just retain the 25-percent threshold adopted by the Commission on Elections for the automated counting machines in the 2016 elections. “Otherwise, the victory of the winners in the last elections from the president down to the last town councilors would be put in serious doubt,” said Panganiban.