Robredo lawyer: Poll fraud claim should be raised with Comelec

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The lawyer of the Vice President , Atty. Maria Bernadette Sardillo, said Comelec informed parties way ahead about a 'new feature' in the 2016 poll ballot image.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) —  The lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo debunked claims by former Senator Bongbong Marcos of poll fraud as his complaint was about previously approved changes to the ballot format.

"Kung nagtanong lang po sila sa Comelec (Commission on Elections), at nag-participate sila sa source code review, ay hindi sila magugulat kung bakit may ganyang feature," Bernadette Sardillo, Robredo's legal counsel, told CNN Philippines The Source Tuesday.

[Translation: If they just asked Comelec, and they participated in the source code review, they wouldn't be surprised with the new feature.]

Marcos earlier pointed out the appearance of mysterious squares on ballot images provided by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. He then said this was proof of poll fraud, but Robredo's lawyer pointed out the reason for the new image.

"Noong 2010 and 2013, hindi siya nakalagay [In 2010 and 2013, it was not placed]. It's a new feature introduced to improve the system for the 2016 elections," Sardillo said.

Robredo's lawyer said the squares makes it easier for vote-counting machines to recognize a shade on the circle corresponding to the name of a candidate, otherwise poor shading would void the vote. She added  political parties were told way ahead of the elections about changes to the ballot images.

"May imbitasyon ang [There's an invite from] Comelec months before the elections for the political parties and even candidates to submit their respective IT (information technology) representatives," she said.

Meanwhile, Marcos legal counsel, Vic Rodriguez, said such information on the ballot format was not cascaded to their party.

"We're saying, why is there presence of squares on the ballot images and for that particular ballot, bakit napakaraming kahon na tila yata, si Mrs. Robredo lang, at ang kanyang abogado, at ang Liberal Party ang may special briefing sa Comelec na nagsasabing may lalabas na kahon diyan?" Rodriguez said.

[Translation: We're saying, why is there presence of squares on the ballot images and for that particular ballot, there's so many squares that only Mrs. Robredo, her lawyers, and the Liberal Party have the special briefing with Comelec about their appearance?]

In a media briefing on January 29, the former senator accused the Comelec, poll technology provider Smartmatic, and Robredo of a plot against his then vice-presidential bid. He added Comelec did not explain anything on the ballot images.

"Every single ballot image that we have received had squares on them that cannot be explained," Marcos said.

When asked how many ballot images their camp has, Marcos could not give an exact figure.