Marcos: Ballots from four CamSur precincts wet, audit logs missing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 2) — Former Senator Bongbong Marcos revealed Monday that ballots from four precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur were all wet and useless for the recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

"Lahat ng balota, nung binuksan, basa, so hindi magamit," Marcos said.

[Translation: All ballots were wet, so they're useless.]

He raised the possibility that the ballot boxes have been tampered with.

"Hindi namin maintindihan papaano, imposible naman siguro na dalawang taong basa yan. Sa palagay ko, kailangan talaga pag aralan kung paano nangyari yan. Ibig sabihin kasi kung may nagbasa, may nagbukas nung ballot box," Marcos said.

[Translation: We can't understand how this could have happened. I think it's impossible that the ballots  stayed wet for two years. I believe this should be looked into. It means that if someone drenched the ballot boxes, then someone opened them.]

Marcos released the finding as the recount of the votes began on Monday, two years after he filed his electoral protest before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. He lost to Vice President Leni Robredo by 263,473 votes.

READ: Presidential Electoral Tribunal begins recount of vice presidential votes

Camarines Sur is a known stronghold of Robredo since it is her home province.

Robredo's lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, had an explanation.  He said the ballot boxes could have gotten wet from tropical cyclones that hit the province.

"Wala tayong problema kung nababasa ang balota o kaya nasisira yung ballot boxes. Lahat ng election protest ng Comelec (Commission on Elections), may ganyang nangyayari," he said in a press briefing.

He noted that the 2016 national elections were automated so images of the ballots could be printed and counted instead of the damaged ones.

Missing audit logs

Marcos also revealed that 38 of the 42 precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur had no audit logs.

"Bakit walang audit log? Kinuha yung audit log. In other words, binuksan yung ballot box, kinuha yung audit log at hindi namin makita," he said.

[Translation: Why are there no audit logs? They have been taken. In other words, the ballot boxes were opened, someone took the audit logs, and we could not find them.]

Marcos said audit logs are important because these contain timestamps of the ballots.

"Para makita natin number one, kung nag-report ang VCM (vote-counting machines) nang masyadong maaga o nag-report yung VCM kahit na after ng voting hours," he explained.

[Translation: So we can see if the VCM reported too early or even after voting hours.]

Marcos pointed out that the audit logs would show if there were cases of batch voting. He said they would look into votes that came in late on May 9 and early on May 10, when Robredo's numbers surged.

But Macalintal maintained that there were no anomalies in the elections.

"Hindi naman pwedeng porke't wala yung audit logs ay may anomaly. The best evidence in the recount are the ballots," Macalintal said.

[Translation: It doesn't mean that just because the audit logs are missing, there's an anomaly. The best evidence in the recount are the ballots.]

READ: Robredo, Marcos camps ready for vote recount

In granting Marcos' petition,  the PET decided on Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental as the pilot provinces for the recount.

Marcos had identified the three provinces as "best exemplifying fraud or irregularities" in his protest brief.

Robredo also listed three provinces in her own counter-protest brief: Capiz, Sulu, and North Cotabato.

The recount in the three pilot provinces chosen by Marcos will take up to six months.

Robredo said the electoral protest is based on general allegations and manufactured evidence designed to sway results in Marcos' favor.

The Former Senator had also questioned the appearance of "mysterious squares" on ballot images beside Robredo's name, claiming these were  proof of fraud.

Robredo's camp explained  that the squares were the way vote-counting machines recognized a shade on the circle next to the name of the candidate.

The PET earlier required Marcos to pay P66 million and Robredo P15 million to fund their protests and counter-protests. A petitioner needed to pay P500 per contested precinct.