The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has begun the retrieval of ballot boxes in the province of Camarines Sur on Tuesday, January 23.
Camarines Sur is among the three pilot provinces tagged by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his electoral protest against Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Ballot boxes and other poll documents were retrieved from 538 precincts in the following municipalities: Cabusao, Sipocot, Lupi, Ragay, Del Gallego, Libmanan, Pamplona, Pasacao, San Fernando, Milaor, Gainza and Minalabac.
“The [SC] has also deployed security detail. So far, we don’t see any problem,” said Bernadette Sardillo, counsel for Robredo.
“Each ballot box will be inspected because the retrieval team here has to make sure that all the election paraphernalia that will be sent to Manila will be complete,” she added.
Based on the order from the SC, the ballot retrieval process in Camarines Sur will continue until Friday, January 26.
The ballot boxes will then be delivered at the SC-Court of Appeals Gymnasium in Manila for the recount set in February.
Concerning the transport of the ballot boxes to Manila, Sardillo said the SC has given assurance that the documents will be secured.
“There will be 31 Special Action Forces who will be deployed, and another 31 from the security detail of the Supreme Court. The transport will be by land, because boarding it in a plane would be expensive,” she said.
Marcos has accused Robredo of benefiting from “massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities” during the vice presidential election in 2016.
Apart from Camarines Sur, Marcos also listed Iloilo and Negros Oriental as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities alleged in his protest.
The PET has yet to release the retrieval schedules for the remaining two pilot provinces.
Robredo won the vice presidential race by just 263,473 votes more than Marcos.