Tolentino’s electoral protest a ‘waste of time’ – De Lima

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For Senator Leila M. de Lima, the recount of ballots included in the electoral protest of defeated 2016 senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino is just a “waste of time and resources.”

De Lima said the recount, which started last week, is unnecessary because Tolentino’s baseless election protest lodged against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) is baseless and has no legal basis.

To emphasize her point, De Lima noted that out of the 74 ballot boxes so far opened, Tolentino was able to recover only 19 votes, while her votes increased to 40 more votes, or a net gain of 21 more votes in her favor.

“This only shows the desperation that he and his revision team is experiencing right now. They have also objected to all of my valid ballots without any legal basis whatsoever,” she said in a statement.

“All in all, these initial results only show that the revision is a waste of time and resources, resources that only Tolentino has. He is, after all, the political adviser to the President who has undertaken all efforts to destroy me and remove from my office as Senator of the Republic,” she added.

De Lima, through her lawyer Teddy Rigoroso, has earlier filed a motion before the SET to cite Tolentino in contempt for his false and misleading statements of alleged fraud and irregularities in the 2016 national elections.

She maintained that Tolentino has violated the “sub judice” rule when he discussed during separate media interviews the merits of the election protest case he filed against her at the SET.

De Lima pointed out that she garnered a total votes of 14,144,070 while Tolentino only got 12,811,098, which is a huge margin of 1,332,972 votes according to the official proclamation of the Commission on Elections.

She also noted that Tolentino has failed to substantiate his claim that the SD cards used in the 2016 elections could have been “pre-loaded” with votes, and should be a basis to move for annulment of elections results.

“This is not relevant, much less material to the ongoing revision proceedings, as such issue is not even covered therein,” she said, adding that Tolentino failed miserably to provide evidence to prove his allegation.

Alleged ballot mixed-up

De Lima also labelled as “misleading” the claim of Tolentino about the purported mixed up of 2013 and 2016 ballots.

She explained the ballot box itself (only one ballot box and not several as he claimed) and all of its contents are election paraphernalia from the 2013 elections that were erroneously transmitted to the SET (instead of the ballot boxes used for the 2016 elections) “through no fault on my end, but due to the error of the City Treasurer of Calbayog City.”

“The retrieval of the ballot boxes for the initial revision of pilot protested precincts happened during July 3-10, 2017, during which the ballot boxes of Calbayog City, including the ballot box for Clustered Precinct No. 60030008, were found in the City Treasurer’s Office.”

“Noticing that the ballot box was black in color, my representative called the attention of the SET retrieval team and the City Treasurer, and said that that could pertain to the 2013 elections. The City Treasurer, however, insisted that that was the correct ballot box,” she narrated.

De Lima said when the ballot boxes were opened, all the documents inside pertain to the 2013 national and local elections, and not a single ballot or election document pertaining to the 2016 elections.

“Since it was for the wrong elections, none of the contents of said ballot box has any bearing in the instant election protest,” she said.

Zero for both

De Lima took issue on Tolentino for questioning the zero votes he got from Isabela City, Basilan province and six other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao despite his supposed endorsement from the Iglesia Ni Cristo.

“If protestant Tolentino’s logic is to be followed – that getting zero votes means that he was cheated – then, by the same logic I was also the victim of cheating in several of these precincts where both of us obtained zero votes. This demolishes Tolentino’s theory that getting zero votes automatically benefitted me, since I did not get his fictional votes,” she said.

“In several instances, I also obtained zero votes. The simplest reasonable explanation is almost always the right one – that the voters in those precincts simply decided not to vote for either of us. That is the choice of the people,” she added.

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