Duterte seeks status of VP poll recount

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President Rodrigo Duterte wanted updates on the poll protest concerning Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — President Rodrigo Duterte expressed interest in the status of the vice presidential polls vote recount, involving incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos.

"Ano bang… Ano bang latest count nito kay Bongbong pati kay ano? Ma-vice president ba talaga 'yan kasi..." Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang Monday. He did not elaborate.

[Translation: What's the latest count in the Bongbong and...? Will he/she be vice President?]

The recount started on April 2, two years after Marcos brought his electoral protest to the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). He lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Both camps recently debated over the change in the allowed shading threshold of ballots — the minimum acceptable amount of shade in the ballot's circle to qualify as a valid vote. The incumbent vice president argued the Comission on Elections in 2016 informed the PET of the 25 percent threshold, but Marcos belied her claims and called them "misleading."

READ: Robredo on Marcos' claim her appeal was misleading: 'He's lying'

In his comment filed Monday, Marcos said there is no categorical declaration in the Comelec Resolution No. 16-0600 that the 25 percent shading threshold was adopted by the Comelec En Banc "during the judicial recount and revision of ballots in election protest."

Duterte is a known ally of the Marcoses. He expressed support for the burial of late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos — whose more than 20-year term has been marred by human rights violations — at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

READ: Marcos family thanks Duterte for allowing burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Meanwhile, Robredo and Duterte have not seen eye to eye on some social issues. She had resigned from the Duterte cabinet in December 2016.

On Wednesday, former members of the Liberal Party (LP) — of which Robredo is chairman — slammed Duterte's expression of interest in the poll protest.

"Duterte should not interfere into the affairs of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal regarding Marcos's election protest as this could cause undue pressure on the PET," said human rights lawyer and former LP-affiliate Akbayan Rep. solon Barry Gutierrez.

Another former LP lawmaker, Erin Tañada, said Robredo could suffer the same fate as that of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted after Duterte announced his plans of removing her from her post.

"Nang magsalita si Duterte laban kay Chief Justice Sereno, naalis siya sa puwesto. Ngayong nagpahayag ng interes si Duterte sa protesta ni Marcos, baka sapitin din ni VP Leni ang kapalaran ni Chief Justice Sereno," Tañada said.

[Translation: When Duterte spoke against Chief Justice Sereno, she was ousted. Now that the President is expressing interest in Marcos' poll protest, VP Leni might experience the same demise.]

READ: Supreme Court ousts Sereno in historic ruling

Duterte's statement seeking an update on the status of the VP electoral polls recount came after he reiterated his call to detractors to prove he was behind Sereno's ouster.

"She got herself into it actually. And it was not because of us. Not because of Congress, because of her peers. Wala naman tayong kasali diyan. Lalo na Supreme Court," he explained.

READ: Duterte to Sereno: I am now your enemy

He then made another offer to resign if proven he had a hand in the ouster of Sereno.

"Sabi ko nga, kung may magsabi lang dito isa. Anyone of you. Magsabi na tumawag ka sa akin, nakalimutan mo may kinausap ka, mag-resign ako bukas. Totohanan 'yan. Tutal gusto ko nalang mag-resign rin eh," he said.

[Translation: I told you, if just one, any one of you could prove that we talked, we had a phone conversation, I will resign. It is true. I've always wanted to resign.]

READ: Sereno asks Duterte to resign