De Lima asks SET to cite Tolentino in contempt

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Senator Leila M. de Lima today asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to cite former senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino in contempt for his false and misleading statements of alleged fraud and irregularities in the 2016 national elections.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, filed the motion to cite Tolentino in contempt of court through her lawyer Teddy Rigoroso before the SET at 10 a.m today.

In a four-page motion, De Lima stated that Tolentino violated the sub judice rule when he granted media interviews predisposing the public to think that she supposedly manipulated the election results in 2016.

“When protestant Tolentino makes false and misleading utterances, the integrity of the Tribunal’s proceedings is put in question. Such public utterances also tend to violate the sub judice rule,” she said.

By citing news reports, De Lima took issue on Tolentino’s media statements that there were several ballot boxes in pilot precincts of Calbayog City, Western Samar that purportedly contained ballots used in the 2013 polls. The truth is there is only one (1) ballot box that turned out to be used for 2013 elections but mistakenly turned over by the City Treasurer to the SET collection team.

She called out on Tolentino for questioning before the media the presence of 2013 ballots that have purportedly been mixed up with the 2016 ballots.

“This statement serves no purpose but to mislead the public and this Tribunal. Protestant Tolentino and his entire revision team knew that only one (1) ballot box pertaining to Clustered Precinct No. 60030008 of Calbayog City, Western Samar referred to the 2013 elections.

“But by impressing upon the public that 2013 ballots are mixed up with the 2016 ballots, protestant Tolentino is trying to insinuate fraud or irregularity that is not really there,” De Lima pointed out.

In her motion, De Lima also stated that Tolentino, through media interviews, made it appear that there was “statistical improbability” in relation to the zero votes he got from Isabela City, Basilan province and six other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

De Lima, however, explained the doctrine of statistical improbability does not apply to Tolentino’s poll results especially since she also garnered zero votes in the same precincts that Tolentino identified as his pilot precincts.

In the 2016 national elections, Tolentino lost by more than 1.3 million votes to De Lima for the 12th spot in the winning senatorial candidates.

The SET started last week the recount of ballots included in the electoral protest of Tolentino.

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