Marcos Jr to contest Philippines V-P vote count

Philippine vice-presidential candidate senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is greeted by members of religious group El Shaddai. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network) - Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr's aides have indicated they will contest the vice-presidential vote count during the official canvassing of votes in Congress that starts on Wednesday (May 25).

Jose Amorado, a lawyer for Marcos, son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, said the senator was counting on being allowed to conduct a system audit of the central and transparency servers of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before the official canvassing begins.

Under the Constitution, the Senate and House of Representatives will hold a joint session to act as the National Board of Canvassers for votes cast for the president and vice-president.

The lawmakers will check for discrepancies, and respond to objections from the candidates' representatives. After the canvassing, the joint session will then proclaim the official winners for president and vice-president.

Marcos is contesting the results of the unfinished unofficial quick count of the vice presidential votes, which showed Congresswoman Leni Robredo leading him by just over 200,000 votes.

"We remain hopeful the Comelec will grant our demand to open the automated election system to audit because I am sure the Comelec would want to uncover the truth in the unauthorised script change in the transparency server," Amorado said in a statement on Sunday.

He was referring to the script change introduced by system provider Smartmatic during the transmission of votes on the night of May 9.

The Marcos camp ha blamed the change to Robredo overtaking him in the quick count of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), an election watchdog accredited by the election commission, and media outlets based on the mirror transparency servers.

According to Smartmatic's explanation to Comelec, they changed the script of the transparency server to correct the spelling of candidates' names with the letter "ñ" since the character came out as "?" in the system.

Marcos' chief counsel George Garcia Jr. raised the possibility the Marcos camp would prolong the official canvass but said they would not delay the expected proclamation of Rodrigo Duterte's as president-elect.

Marcos would never be a "hindrance to a speedy canvass and immediate proclamation of our new president", Garcia Jr said.

The tough-talking 71-year-old has yet to be proclaimed the May 9 poll winner, but the unofficial vote count showed a huge lead over his rivals, three of whom conceded defeat. He is due to take office on June 30.

The lead counsel of Robredo said there was no stopping her victory over Marcos Jr., dismissing as "procedural matter" the latter's bid to conduct an audit.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.